Blessing the Meek: Servant Scholars Program Stresses God, Community and Mentorship
By Rachelle Reeves
Special to GCU Today Magazine
Anamaria Lup sat on a metal folding chair next to an 8-year-old girl who needed a little help with her homework.
The modest back room of the Pentecostal church in south Phoenix provided an opportunity to interact with the elementary school students on a personal level.
Lup, a sophomore forensic science major, read to the girl and helped lead a Bible study with the Mentor Kids USA after-school program. The assignment is a requirement for Grand Canyon University’s Servant Scholars program, although Lup enjoys taking time out of her day to help children who might be limited in the quality time they spend with adult mentors.
GCU’s Servant Scholars program provides $10,000 one-year scholarships to students who demonstrated exceptional spiritual leadership in their communities and graduated with a minimum 3.25 grade-point average in high school. Mentor Kids USA is one of more than 20 ministry options available to Servant Scholars. Students such as Lup may prefer to work with young people, while others spend their ministry time helping the homeless or recovering addicts.
“I saw it as a privilege to be able to pour into the lives of these kids,” said Lup, a 19-year-old native of Romania whose family immigrated through a visa lottery.
Ryan Maguire, who oversees Servant Scholars for GCU’s Spiritual Life office, said the program helps develop strong spiritual leaders for the University and for the overall community in general.
“It is a program with the intention of developing young people who are achieving in academics who have a love for the Lord and a love for other people and giving them opportunities to lead on campus,” said Maguire, who anticipates having a maximum roster of 150 students by this fall.
A normal week for the Servant Scholars consists of attending Chapel and “Core Group,” blessing an approved outside ministry with four hours of their time, meeting with fellow Servant Scholars to keep one another accountable, taking part in monthly trainings, and setting aside prayer time to let God lead in their everyday lives. Students are also required to live on campus to fulfill a requirement of serving the student population.
Maguire called the impact of the Servant Scholars program incredible, adding that GCU’s program stands out among other Christian universities for its unique blending of academics and faith-based community service. Applicants go through an intense review process that now includes a video response to questions like: “Who is Jesus?,” “How does a person come into a relationship with Jesus?” and “What kind of leadership experience in a ministry or church context do you have?”
The emphasis on spirituality and community service carries students into their real-world assignments. GCU partners with organizations that assist foster children, seniors, low-income families and other underprivileged members of society.
“The world’s not as good as I perceived it to be — there’s a lot of broken people,” said Brandon Kaiser, one of nine GCU Servant Scholars assigned this spring to the Phoenix Dream Center Christian rehabilitation home.
The Phoenix Dream Center is located in an old Embassy Suites hotel that a non-profit organization converted into housing for people trying to free themselves of the addictions and life choices that left them homeless.
Kaiser and other students work with young adults, specifically those who aged out of state-run foster care programs.
“Having the opportunity to serve here, I’ve really grown in awareness,” Kaiser said.