Forming Servant Leaders

August 2, 2023

The Chatfield Edge is deeply rooted in the vision of St. Angela Merici who founded the Ursulines in 1535, the first teaching order of religious women. St. Angela focused on the education of girls and dedicated her life to improving their lives through education.

Three hundred years later, our namesake Julia Chatfield, built The School of the Brown County Ursulines in St. Martin, and our rich history of serving others in Southwest Ohio began.

St. Angela, Julia Chatfield, and many other Chatfield educators believed it was paramount to infuse the value of servant leadership into the postsecondary education experience, a belief that continues today at The Chatfield Edge.

What is Servant Leadership?

Servant leadership flips the traditional notion of leadership on its head. Rather than leaders being at the top, they are at the bottom and charged with serving all those above them. Instead of holding power, they give it up to empower those who follow them. Servant leaders aspire to build a community where all who participate thrive.

Sr. Patricia Homan, OSU, an Ursuline Sister and board member at The Chatfield Edge, identifies giving back as a value that St. Angela encouraged others to embrace – taking on Christ, who lived on earth as a servant, as their role model.  “Service is an important element in the educational process because it allows those who serve to appreciate the needs of others. It offers the opportunity to gain compassion and understanding as well as acceptance of the concerns of others.” Student scholars and mentors at The Chatfield Edge are doing just that.

Servant Leadership in Action

Arneqka Lester, a current Chatfield scholar and student at Mt. St. Joseph University, began volunteering at the YMCA food pantry on the advice of one of her teachers. She wanted to take a job related to her field of study in social work but was uncomfortable starting conversations with people she didn’t know. Her teacher suggested that she participate in a volunteer activity to help overcome her fear of talking to others.

Not only did Arneqka overcome her fears, as you can see from this volunteer spotlight video, but she says volunteering is now an addiction.

“I had a recent experience where a woman in her 60s came into the food pantry and broke down crying. Never in a million years did she think she would need to go to a food pantry. I remember getting to that point in my own life. You never think you will need to ask for that kind of help. It’s hard, and it’s hurtful. I understood where she was coming from. I just hugged her. It felt so good.”

Justin Pappachan is a volunteer mentor with The Chatfield Edge. Growing up in a middle-class family, he knew he would attend college. When he started at the University of Cincinnati, he quickly realized that not everyone arrives on campus with the support they need to succeed, and not everyone stays.

“It’s never just one thing that can send someone spiraling,” he said. “It can be finances, coursework, unexpected life events, and relationship challenges.”

Justin is now volunteering with The Chatfield Edge as a peer mentor to assist young people who have taken a break from their education and are trying to return. As a student, he knows he can offer support because he can relate to their stress. He can help them manage their workflow and meet deadlines or just be available for a conversation.

If these stories have inspired you and you want to engage with our mission as a student, mentor, volunteer, donor, or partner, contact us today.