Nurturing the Whole Student: Service-based Programs at Pfeiffer University
The Francis Center for Servant Leadership at Pfeiffer University coordinates all AmeriCorps and community service Federal Work Study (FWS) programs. AmeriCorps programs were created on Pfeiffer’s campus to provide students with opportunities to serve others while also earning funds to further their education. Students who participate in the AmeriCorps program and who are qualified for FWS are encouraged to combine their efforts and focus on community service job placements. Students may use the same service hours to qualify for their AmeriCorps education award and their FWS award. Students who participate in community service FWS can also combine their work-study experience with a departmental internship.
Vice President for Student Leadership
Pfeiffer University first opened its doors in 1885 as a mission school founded to provide an education to students who had few opportunities for formal learning. A comprehensive university with more than 2,100 students, Pfeiffer serves undergraduate, graduate, and adult students with two campus sites: one in a thriving metropolitan city (Charlotte, NC) and a main campus that is located in a rural tri-county region (Misenheimer, NC).
As a United Methodist institution, the university has the teachings of the church embedded in its history. These teachings embody deeply held beliefs regarding the importance of missions, social justice, and love for others. With its strong commitment to the United Methodist tradition of service to others, Pfeiffer’s mission is to be recognized as the model church-related institution preparing servant leaders for lifelong learning. Pfeiffer’s emphasis on servant leadership is affirmed by the university’s campus culture, which encourages volunteerism and social justice.
Student Leadership Development
To further the university mission of preparing servant leaders for lifelong learning, a campuswide center for servant leadership — the Francis Center for Servant Leadership — was established in the fall of 2000. The Francis Center for Servant Leadership works in collaboration with Academic Affairs, Student Development, and Religious Life to provide service and leadership opportunities for students. The center also coordinates all AmeriCorps and community service Federal Work-Study (FWS) programs.
Combining FWs and AmeriCorps
AmeriCorps programs were created on Pfeiffer’s campus to provide students with opportunities to serve others while earning funds to further their education. Students who participate in the AmeriCorps program and who are qualified for FWS are encouraged to combine their efforts and focus on community service job placements. Students may use the same service hours to qualify for their AmeriCorps education award and their FWS award.
Non-AmeriCorps work-study students interested in community service are also referred to the Francis Center from the Financial Aid Office. Upon referral, the Center helps these students match their interests in service and community needs.
The cooperative working relationship between the Financial Aid Office and the Francis Center began several years ago when the Francis Center was created. It is a cordial partnership, where both departments work together. A challenge faced by the partnership is to create a system that better identifies students interested in community service FWS. One solution may be a new universitywide technology infrastructure that is better able to monitor student interests.
Combining FWS and Internships
Students who participate in community service FWS can also combine their work-study experience with a departmental internship. The Departmental Internship Opportunity encourages upper-level students to develop skills by providing direct services to agencies and organizations in the community. Students at Pfeiffer University who participate in this program are often enrolled in Field Experience courses in either Psychology or Human Services. The goals of the internship/field experience are to provide service and enhance student skills; community service FWS supports both the efforts of the academic mission of this program and the economic needs of the students.
In 2004-05, 15% of all work-study students at Pfeiffer participated in community service FWS. In some years as many as 17% participate in community service jobs. Ten percent of work-study students also earn an AmeriCorps award, and 4% earn internship credit.
Other Student Development Opportunities
In addition to serving at local community sites, students develop individually as leaders through workshops, small groups, and one-on-one interaction. At Pfeiffer University, we believe that an important commitment to preparing our students for service to others involves training and personal development. Through required monthly reflection meetings, AmeriCorps students reflect on their service experiences while receiving invaluable training on leadership and personal development skills. Community service FWS students are not required to participate in the monthly reflection meetings, but are strongly encouraged.
Additionally, there are opportunities for students in these programs to gain leadership training and development through a Servant Leadership Series for students as well as Office of Student Development specific training. Approximately 90% of our students involved in AmeriCorps programs and other service related programs participate in leadership development.
Get more information on the Servant Leadership Series.
Connecting students to the community through service is a significant aspect of Pfeiffer University’s culture. Through deliberate efforts to create a college experience that nurtures the “whole” student, our community service FWS program focuses on helping students connect all aspects of their college life by encouraging them to look for innovative avenues to pursue service, while also earning needed funds for the pursuit of education. The Community Service FWS Program at Pfeiffer University provides us with the flexibility to serve both the community and our students.