A scholarship program at Wittenberg University provided junior Maggie McKune with the chance to connect to her new home in Springfield and give back to the community while earning her degree.
McKune, from Kentucky, knew no one when she came to Wittenberg as a freshman, but she had been awarded a $10,000 Wittenberg scholarship that required her to participate in 20 hours of community service every semester during her time at Wittenberg. She chose to work at Rock of H.O.P.E., a Christian youth center at 705 Linden Avenue for Springfield teens.
“I began as a community engagement scholar at the Rock of H.O.P.E my first semester at Wittenberg, and now I can’t imagine it not being a part of my life,” McKune, who is now studying abroad in Sweden, said in an e-mail. “I have made really good friends within the program and through my service site that have supported my personal growth in my three years at Wittenberg … The teens at the Rock have really made me feel like I belong in Springfield, and I can’t thank them enough for that.”
The Community Engagement Scholarship Program at Wittenberg awards an annual $2,500 scholarship for students who are involved in community service and maintain a 2.75 GPA, said Kristen Collier, director of community service.
“It’s attracting a student that maybe isn’t a 4.0 student but is a good student and has a passion for being engaged in the community,” she said.
An average of about five students are chosen for the program every year.
“They’re advocates for service on campus but they’re also advocates for the Springfield community,” Collier said.
Each year, the students in the program are asked to complete a special task, like a service project for their junior year. McKune chose to create a mural on the walls at The Rock with the teens she worked with there.
The group settled on a sketch, first drawn by students in the spring of 2012, of two hands with the words “I serve God with these hands.” The first phase of the mural was completed in December and later students will sign their names to it.
“We really liked the picture, so when I was looking for something that would reflect the values of the Rock and be something collaborative, this is what came to mind,” McKune said.
McKune added a Bible verse, 1 Peter 4:10, to the work: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
“It’s been such a blessing to get to know these teens,” said McKune. “I believe that having a supportive community is a really important piece of daily living, and I like being able to contribute that and support others how I can.”