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Servant Leadership Awards Honor Student Contributions

2020 Servant Leadership Award recipients are recognized for their contributions to ministry, community service, and campus leadership.

By Aiyanna Klaphake '20

May 07, 2020 | 10 a.m.

Bethel students Maddie Christy '20, Jake Marsh '20, Cassandra Dixon '20, and Koressa Weems '20 were named recipients of the 2020 Servant Leadership Awards.

Bethel students Maddie Christy '20, Jake Marsh '20, Cassandra Dixon '20, and Koressa Weems '20 were named recipients of the 2020 Servant Leadership Awards.

Each spring, Bethel community members nominate dozens of students to receive a Servant Leadership Award from the Office of Christian Formation and Church Relations. From the nominees, a handful of exemplary candidates are selected by a committee of faculty and staff in recognition of their substantial contributions to Christian ministries, community service, and demonstrated leadership. Since the award’s creation in 2001, there have been nearly 100 awardees. 

“We talk a lot about leadership, scholarship, and service as part of our mission—that we want students to go into the world,” says Associate Vice President of Christian Formation and Church Relations Laurel Bunker. “A Bethel degree is a rigorous process itself, so when we see students taking on additional responsibilities, whether it’s leading worship, being a part of Bethel Student Government, or athletics, those are things we want to recognize.”

In past years, a Chapel service and following luncheon have been dedicated to celebrating the impressive accomplishments of the awardees. At the service, they are presented a monetary award, certificate of achievement, and an angel sculpture. However, because of this spring’s unique circumstances, the traditional celebration was not possible. Even so, it was important to the award committee that each student was honored. “We love being able to celebrate students,” Bunker explains, “and it is important we find ways to say ‘bravo’ to students who are continuing to serve, ‘bravo’ to students who choose one more thing to follow the way of Jesus.”

Instead, each student received notification of their selection via a letter from Bunker plus a monetary award to be split between the student and the charitable organization of their choice. Students were also provided additional funds to enjoy a special meal with their family.

“We love being able to celebrate students, and it is important we find ways to say ‘bravo’ to students who are continuing to serve, ‘bravo’ to students who choose one more thing to follow the way of Jesus.”

— Associate Vice President of Christian Formation and Church Relations Laurel Bunker

In many ways, examples of servant leadership are more important and inspiring now than ever. The following students received this year’s Servant Leadership awards:

Maddie Christy ’20 is a missional ministries and journalism double-major. At Bethel, Christy worked as a resident assistant, teaching assistant, and for the admissions office. Her passion for service is clear in her dedication to the various activities she’s joined during her time at Bethel, whether that be the volleyball team, Bethel’s student newspaper The Clarion, or spring mission trips. Christy views service as being inherently tied to leadership: “Leadership is not a flashy title that earns praise, power, or prestige. Instead positions of leadership have invited me to take action behind the scenes… It's often hard, dirty, and sometimes lonely work, but I have learned that leadership is also some of the most refining and rewarding work!” Christy hopes to continue discovering opportunities to demonstrate her heart for service as she ventures beyond Bethel post-graduation.

Cassandra Dixon ’20 is a biology major with a minor in sociocultural studies. Dixon was nominated by Director of Military & Veteran Services John Morris, who recognized Dixon’s impressive involvement at Bethel as a leader for the Pre-Med Club, the president of Student Veterans of America, an Act Six lead scholar, and a member of the Black Student Union. “Servant leadership is rooted in adding value to one’s sphere of service,” Dixon says. “Leadership is also displayed in intentional involvement… Receiving this award has helped me reflect on my current involvement. It has encouraged me to holistically strategize ways of serving others in future positions.” Moving forward, Dixon seeks to impact underserved communities through work in the medical field.

Jake Marsh ’20 is a social studies education major who’s participated in Bethel football, baseball, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and who mentors local high school athletes. Marsh sees servant leadership as being demonstrated through the sacrifice of one’s time and energy to put others first. “My faith as a Christian makes service even more rewarding because I believe I’m aligning myself with Christ and the church,” he says. “Over my four years at Bethel, I’ve had a couple friends win the award. They’re all individuals I highly respect. To think of myself as receiving the same recognition as them is quite humbling.” Marsh hopes to continue serving inner-city students as he takes the next steps in his career and to be able to connect with young athletes thanks to his own sports experiences.

Koressa Weems ’20 is a nursing major nominated by Professor Dave Muhovich. At Bethel, Weems played volleyball and later served the team as a student coach. She’s also involved in the Bethel Student Nurses’ Association, Nurses Christian Fellowship, and is vice president of the snowboard and ski club. To her, servant leadership is exemplified most perfectly by Jesus Christ. “A servant leader is one who serves with the intent to not receive anything in return,” she says. “I believe everyone has the calling to be a servant leader in whatever role or position they are in.” Weems especially feels she has been provided examples of servant leadership while at Bethel. “I am thankful for all the encouraging role models and professors I have in my life,” she explains. Weems looks forward to continuing to serve wherever God leads her next.

Find ways to serve.

Bethel students can find opportunities to engage in community and serve others through Bethel’s Office of Christian Formation and Church Relations, whether that be community outreach, discipleship, or missions work.

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