ASU’s Spirit of Service Scholars program creates community leaders and do-gooders

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The saying goes “Leaders aren’t born, they are made.”

ASU’s Spirit of Service Scholars, a professional development scholarship program, is doing just that.

Led by the College of Public Programs, the program focuses on honoring students that demonstrate their commitment to service and the greater good through their college experience.

“The hope is that we can provide this common training ground for these students that all have different career aspirations,” says Jessica Eldridge, a manager of public service initiatives at ASU. “But know that within those fields they want to make an impact and be a leader that is geared toward the public good.”

The program has many components, ranging from seminar and networking events to off-campus experiences geared toward helping students achieve greatness.

Although it has stayed true to its core mission over the last five years, the Spirit of Service Scholars program has become increasingly student-centered.

Eldridge says one example that showcases the students’ involvement in leading the program is the weekend seminar that takes place once a month.

“It did reflect their interest, but it wasn’t designed by them initially,” she says. “But as of recently, the students became engaged in creating the sessions, planning the speakers and really having it be student-driven based on their interests and the synergy they saw in their community.”

Eldridge says that the program will attempt to make their involvement more dynamic with visits to sites where the community issues they focus on are dealt with every day.

Perhaps one of the greatest tools the program has to offer students is the opportunity to network under the advisory of former Attorney General of Arizona Terry Goddard.

“He was the former director of the program,” says Eldridge. “Now that he’s running for secretary of state, he’s serving as an advisory board chair for getting students paired up with community mentors.”

Eldridge says the value of networking and mentorship extends past the students’ collegiate endeavors.

“I know it’s led to entry ways to job paths in the Valley and also led to more national connections,” she says. “It’s something that benefits the students during their year in the scholars programs but definitely has further implications in ongoing years.”

The program is open to all students, regardless of their major. To enroll, students must go through an application process that includes submitting essays regarding their commitment to serving the community and interviews with College of Public Programs personnel.

“They dig a little deeper into the real nuts and bolts of the student’s interests,” Eldridge says. “What are they truly passionate about? What keeps them up at night? What are the policy issues or the public needs that really get them going and energized to make a difference?”

While the components that may appeal to students in the program may vary, Eldridge says Spirit of Service Scholars is about a community helping the students make an impact.

“[It] really allows you to tailor a very public and very networked experience around your particular interests while working collectively in this powerhouse group of awesome individuals that are really aimed at being transformational leaders in public service,” she says.

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