Samford’s Micah Fellows Begin Inaugural Year

Published on September 7, 2016 by Mary Wimberley  
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Samford University freshman Maggie Kohlbusch grew up attending a Christian summer camp that had Micah 6:8 as its theme verse.

“It shares the love of Christ, and I always strived to do that,” Kohlbusch said of the scripture that advises “To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

When her mother, a longtime camp counselor, learned about a new four-year honors program at Samford that is grounded in the wisdom of the Micah scripture, she encouraged Kohlbusch to apply.

“I was surprised when I got the email inviting me to the interview,” said Kohlbusch, who in high school worked for Project Phoebe, a service organization that cares for the elderly.

Happily, the nursing major from Knoxville, Tennessee, is among the 15 inaugural members of Samford’s Micah Fellows Program for Christian Service and Community Engagement.

Developed by Samford’s University Fellows office and the Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership, the program involves innovative course work, high-impact community development and service abroad.

Bryan Johnson, director of the University Fellows program, is pleased and impressed with the students who are part of this historic class of Micah Fellows.

“The inaugural class of Micah Fellows is academically high-achieving and already committed to positive social change in their communities,” Johnson said. “We had 175 applicants, expected to have an entering class of 12, and ended up with 15 thoughtful, serious students interested in committing to purposeful service work while they are at Samford.”

Kohlbusch and the other new Micah Fellows will spend the first year focusing on the call to justice through a class on classical and Christian virtues, and small discussion cadres that explore related concepts of justice. They will put faith into action during a spring break trip to Mobile, Alabama, where they will work at L’Arche, a nonprofit community for intellectually disabled adults.

In subsequent years, Johnson said, Micah Fellows will focus on the theme of mercy through their class work and service projects in Birmingham neighborhoods; and on humility through international service abroad and advanced electives in such topics as Christian ethics, human rights and the sociology of poverty.

During their senior year, they will act as a community foundation, working with Birmingham service organizations to award significant grant funding.

Micah Fellow Jane Foncea looks forward to each year of the program, which appeals to her because of its focus on service, humility and justice. When she was a high school freshman, her family moved to Guatemala for a year of sacrificially and intentionally living to serve others.

“We lived every day serving the Lord and his people,” said Foncea, who plans to major in philosophy and religion.

The Knoxville, Tennessee, resident first heard about Micah Fellows from her brother Jacob, a Samford junior who is a member of the University Fellows honor program.

Samford was a perfect fit for him, and when he learned about Micah Fellows, he knew it was the perfect version of his program for her, she said. 

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ABOUT SAMFORD UNIVERSITY -- Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 3rd among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,509 students from 45 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.