Francis Center Student Profiles
Extending College Service into a Career
Pfeiffer University is home to a diverse body of students from far and wide, and many alumni still call Pfeiffer home. One such alum is Rhonda Benton, a charismatic woman who came to Pfeiffer as a History major and left as an Education/ History double major with an enormous passion for service.
Coming out of the community college system, Benton was able to join the Francis Center for Servant Leadership at Pfeiffer to find a career path, earn a Bonner service scholarship and secure a paid student leadership position. “Coming to Pfeiffer was like coming home,” Benton remarks. As Bonner Leaders, students commit to a specific number of service hours in a calendar year and earn a scholarship upon completion. The Francis Center helps students find community service placements and serves as liaison between students and the providers of the scholarship, The Bonner Foundation and AmeriCorps. Benton’s Bonner placement was at the Stanly County Museum and allowed her to participate in a project with real impact in her community. “The state was interested in putting a camping area over a place of historic significance,” Benton explains, “and I was given the opportunity to complete research about the area in order to stop the demolition.”
After demonstrating her deep desire and commitment to service as a Bonner, Benton was selected as the Student Data Coordinator on the Francis Center’s Student Leadership Team. The role allowed her to work closely with Dr. Ashley Oliphant, the Faculty Fellow for the Francis Center, and learn about data collection and analysis, all while earning a stipend. “Being the Data Coordinator taught me about all of the different opportunities to provide service,” she explains, “It isn’t just about feeding the homeless or raising money for cancer. It’s about changing the world, one opportunity at a time.”
Since graduation, Benton has become a history teacher at Anson County Early College and is enjoying time with her students, teaching grades 9-12 and living her passion. When looking back at her time at Pfeiffer, she reflects on how the Francis Center played a big part in preparing her for a career:
It made me a more well-rounded and open-minded person. It really opened me up to a whole new world I did not know was there and helped me to respect other people's beliefs, opinions and passions. The Francis Center helped me learn how to have an open dialogue with people, even though their opinions were different than my own.
When asked if she could think of one reason to join the Francis Center on campus, Rhonda says, “Especially for new students, the Francis Center becomes your family, and it is always there.”
Surprises in Service
The Francis Center for Servant Leadership caters to a diverse student population at Pfeiffer University, and a great team of student leaders helps to further the organization’s goals. One such student leader is Matthew Humphries, the Alternative Break Trip Coordinator. Matthew learned the importance of serving the community early in life as a boy scout and then went on to further that passion in high school and at Pfeiffer. He is an accounting major with a big heart for service, especially projects that support special needs children.
Considering the mission of the university to prepare servant leaders for lifelong learning and the Francis Center’s theoretical foundation in the works of Robert Greenleaf, it is no surprise that the Francis Center’s student leaders acquire very concrete notions about what servant leadership is.
Humphries explains, “When I say that a person is a servant leader, I see that as a part of who he or she is. It’s a characteristic of that person. It’s not a typical mannerism that you just pick up as you grow up; you choose to live a life of a servant leader each and every day. Servant leaders consciously think about their surroundings and the effects of their decisions.”
During his time at Pfeiffer, Humphries has realized that he has an interest in working with nonprofits once he finishes his degree. Through his service work with the Francis Center, he was able discover his calling.
“I was not really even considering the nonprofit sector at all prior to working with the Francis Center; my plan was to graduate and become a corporate accountant and licensed CPA. Being a part of the Francis Center kind of threw me for a loop. It showed me that what really fills my heart is not money but instead seeing smiling faces on children…Working as part of the Francis Student Leadership Team has given me a wide variety of experiences…with various local and nationally known nonprofits. I have become a more well-rounded business person after being a part of the Francis Center.”
When thinking about what he believes he can do with the resources and relationships that the Francis Center has given him, Humphries remarks, “After being a part of the Francis Center, I really feel like I am being prepared to help serve the community as I grow and make serving a large part of my adult life.”
For more information about Francis Center service opportunities, scholarship options or leadership roles, please contact Kelly Misiak, Director of Service Scholars, at 704-463-3441 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cline Service Hall
QUEST | Download Application
Cline Hall is home to QUEST, a living learning community designed to supplement the Pfeiffer Journey experience. Quest is;
- A community for first-year students to supplement the Journey experience
- Partnership between Residence Life, The Francis Center, Center for Outdoor Leadership, the Village Church, First Year Experience and academics
- Will include service, outdoor experiences, spiritual exploration, dialogues, and be connected to an academic course
- Application process to select students for the community
- Activities planned for QUEST:
- Shared Pfeiffer Journey class with other Cline residents
- Weekend retreat with the Center for Outdoor Leadership
- Service project each semester
- Faith exploration trips to a variety of places of worship
- Weekly dinner dialogues with faculty, staff and alumni
- Extra programming, activities and events
The living-learning community will be fully supported by Pfeiffer University through the use of professional, faculty, and student advisors who will be visible in the residence hall.
- Program Director (Office hours in Cline)
- Program Advisor (Director of Residence Life)
- 2 Faculty advisors (Office hours in Cline)
- Resident Assistant Para-professional (live-in) (Office hours in Cline)
- Faculty mentors for Research Servant Leader projects
- Community mentors for Research Servant Leader projects
Students reside together in a shared learning environment (Cline Residence Hall) that promotes academic focus, community engagement, servant leadership, and intellectual, social, and personal development. Cline Residence Hall is substance-free. Students must continually hold at least a 2.75 GPA.
Students will develop social interaction and development skills by working together to create a leadership structure within the residence hall.
- Residence Hall Governanceâ€“ Students in Cline Residence Hall will form their own democratic government, elect their own representative leaders, build their own community, and determine how to effectively spend their programming budget.
- Community Living Guidelines-Students actively participate in creating and upholding their own community living guidelines for residents (not to conflict with Office of Residential Life rules and regulations).(not inclusive)
Students will participate in fun events that promote community in the residence hall. This list is not inclusive on purpose as the students will determine what activities the residents want to engage in.
- Cline Book Club
- Cline Servant Leadership Podcast
- Cline Improv Group
The living-learning community will integrate academic focus into the student residential environment. Students will increase their intellectual, social, and personal development through linked classes, group projects, and residential community engagement. These tangible experiences can be spotlighted in a portfolio making students more desirable to employers and graduate schools. Benefits of the Cline Servant Leader living-learning community include:
- Cline Servant Leader Certificate, Awards, and University recognition ceremony
- Completion of 4 elective hours relating to servant leadership
- Completion of an education and awareness campaign/presentation
- Completion of a research service learning group project
- Networking opportunities with Pfeiffer faculty, community, and business leaders
- Recently renovated residence hall featuring large rooms, shared kitchen, laundry facilities, and 2 large common spaces
- Faculty and staff advisors with stated office hours in Cline Residence Hall
- Student-led residence hall governance and programming board