During the 2012–2013 school year, I’ve enjoyed the unique opportunity of working with 10 first-year (FY) students who desire to weave reconciliation and peace into their lives. These students are each involved in the Martin Scholars program, which fosters strong academics, service, and leadership skills, while promoting reconciliation in church and society—especially in light of racial and gender equality. In the fall, the FY Martins spent time together each week in the classroom during the First Year Seminar (FYS) course titled, Reading and Writing from Margins to Center, taught by Professor Jennifer McFarlane-Harris. This specific FYS taught the students to think critically about how identities are created and maintained through social practices, as well as apply new vocabulary to explore the global operation of race, gender, and social class.
Throughout the year, the FY Martin Scholars participated in important conversations about social justice with one another, as well as with faculty and staff, practicing a “common language” that can be spoken in their future work as leaders in the area of racial reconciliation. These conversations were formed around readings from the FYS course, hearing from those such as Leymah Gbowee and Maya Angelou, serving together in the local community, and visiting the National Holocaust Museum. These students developed a deep bond to one another after spending a year discussing these issues and experiencing the start of college together.
As the 2016 cohort of Martin Scholars moves on from their first year of college and the Martin Scholars program, they are excited to pursue a variety of study abroad, leadership and academic opportunities at Messiah, as well as welcome the new cohort of 2017 Martin Scholars!
—Kerrie Taylor, Programming Assistant for Multicultural Programs