News Release: University News

Jan. 24,  2008

Community Building Is Serious Work for Emory Fellows

Emory University has selected its sixth class for the Emory Community Building Fellowship, a yearlong program that prepares Emory students to be the next generation of community builders. In addition to their coursework, the fellows provide hands-on outreach to metro-Atlanta neighborhoods and nonprofit, government and business organizations.

A successful centerpiece of Emory's Office of University-Community Partnerships (OUCP), the Emory Community Building Fellowship is a national model for engaged learning programs. It provides undergraduates with a comprehensive year of training, research and experience culminating in an intensive summer-long practicum working on community initiatives in metro Atlanta.

The Emory Community Building Fellows, who hail from nine states, have wide-ranging backgrounds and career aspirations, from health care and law to education, politics and social work. They don't have much in common, except for a dedication to bring positive change to their communities and gain the skills to do so.

New fellow Shari Sprosta, a junior political science major, has an interest in civil rights and plans to attend law school. She sees the fellowship as a fundamental asset to her future career.

"I have always wanted to make a difference in the lives of those who have been either marginalized or victimized by their environments, but I could never conceptualize fully my task," she said. "Because the fellowship makes it possible for me to truly delve into diverse communities, I expect to form valuable relationships, gain a clearer picture of my life�s true purpose, and have skills by which to stimulate change."

Results of past fellows' work include the completion of 20 projects that have produced policy change and new programs and entities. Fellows also have expanded the capacity of existing community initiatives to effectively address issues such as HIV/AIDS, affordable housing, public education quality, urban sprawl, citizen engagement and more. Last summer, fellows worked with Refugee Family Services, Hollowell Partners in Education in northwest Atlanta, and the Whitefoord Community Program where, for example, research by fellows is now being used for strategic planning that will guide the direction of the organization the next five years.

"The fellowship is an excellent example of Emory's engagement with the greater Atlanta community. It provides our students with real world opportunities to learn and practice the skills needed to foster collaborative, cross-sector problem solving and it provides our community partners with critical resources needed to move their work forward," says Michael Rich, associate professor of political science and director of the OUCP.

Emory launched the fellowship program, the first of its kind in the United States, in 2001 with a seed gift from fashion executive Kenneth Cole, CEO and creative director of Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. and a trustee of the Kenneth Cole Foundation. He is an Emory alumnus and a former university trustee.

The fellows are chosen by an advisory committee of 11 faculty members from nine departments and programs. Students selected for the competitive program receive a stipend of $3,500 for their summer community work, a summer housing allowance, 12 hours of academic credit and a summer tuition scholarship. For more information about the fellowship and recruitment, contact director Kate Grace, 404-712-9689 or

The 2008 Emory Community Building Fellows include:

Christopher Brooks
Senior, Political Science
Nashville, Tenn.

Julia Cadwallender
Junior, Sociology
Fredricksburg, Va.

Johanna Elsemore
Senior, Sociology
Keene, N.H.

Matthew Grinney
Senior, Political Science
Mountain Brook, Ala.

Chiemezie Ibekwe
Junior, Educational Studies
Marietta, Ga.

Jim Lu
Junior, Biology
Lilburn, Ga.

Tiffany McDonald
Senior, Sociology
Jackson, Miss.

Yae Park
Junior, Political Science
Corvallis, Ore.

Shari Sprosta
Junior, Political Science
Port Charlotte, Fla.

Maria Town
Junior, Comparative literature
Hammond, La.

Contessua Walker
Junior, Political Science and Sociology
Atlanta, Ga.


News Release Tools