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This year marks the third year of the Michigan Service Scholars program, otherwise known here at Aquinas College as AQ Community Fellows. Dr. Kathy Kremer, Associate Professor of Sociology, and Eric Bridge, Coordinator of Service Learning, head up the program.

The mission of the program is to encourage students to be involved in their education, community, and campus. These goals are accomplished through participation in four areas:
• 10 hours per week of paid student employment time in a community-based organization
• Regular attendance of cohort meetings that concern academic obstacles and the development of leadership
• Completion of a three-credit semester introductory course in Community Leadership
• Close collaboration with faculty advisors

Upon completion of all components of the fellowship, students receive a $1,132 AmeriCorps education award through the Midwest Campus Compact Consortium.

Student Supervisor Brittany Reed, a former AQ Community Fellow and senior, is enthusiastic about why students should consider joining the AQ Community Fellows program. “Students should participate in this program because it opens doors for them to get involved. It’s also a built-in support system for students. This program creates community among the students which gives them the confidence and opportunities to be productive participants in the greater community,” said Reed.

Before coordinating two cohorts of this program here at Aquinas, Dr. Kremer coordinated two cohorts at her previous institution, Wartburg College in Iowa. She strongly values Eric Bridge’s participation as it brings together his expertise at connecting students with community organizations and Dr. Kremer’s passion for mentoring students and inspiring them to be involved with their education, campus, and community. Brittany Reed is a welcome addition to this year’s program.

Reed takes pride in several things she has done in the program, but one accomplishment stands out in particular. “I’m proud of the fact that even though my cohort was labeled ‘at risk’ coming into college, we were able to overcome that statistic and be successful,” Reed said.

There are fourteen students participating in the AQ Community Fellowship this year, making up Aquinas’ largest cohort to date. Among the seven residents of the Community House in Eastown, two have completed AQ Community Fellowships. Dr. Kremer eagerly anticipates seeing the first cohort of Fellows, six in number, graduate in May 2011.

The AQ Community Fellows program is an excellent option for freshmen looking for their place within a college setting. Through involvement in the organization, students such as Reed have gained confidence in themselves as scholars, citizens, and leaders. AQ Community Fellows exemplify elements crucial to an Aquinas education.