• Ian Durelli, 22

      Service Fellowship Participant

Service Fellowship Update

The concepts of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” are repeated frequently. In many cases, they have become trite words used to describe the inalienable rights that all human beings have. However, in the special needs community these concepts are not just words. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been unjustly discriminated against for the bulk of history. While society has come a long way with disbanding certain factors that have infringed upon these rights for people with special needs, the pursuit of happiness is still one concept that needs to be further addressed. Programs like Best Buddies have spent decades improving the inclusion of people who have special needs and in many ways it is this inclusion that prevents the staggering levels of depression amongst people with disabilities. 

In this past year I have researched the factors limiting people with both intellectual and developmental disabilities from achieving independence in life. At the root of this issue lies accessibility to special education, monetary challenges, language and other barriers, and overall inclusion. I have worked to incorporate my interest in the spanish speaking community by researching the special issues that affect spanish speaking immigrants and other non-english speaking people with special needs in the US. Moreover, I am looking into the effects programs like Best Buddies and Easter Seals have on the happiness of individuals with disabilities. My goal is to meet with the school for the blind and incorporate an adaptive rowing program for people who are blind and gradually open it up to individuals with other challenges. 

Service Fellowship @ MBA

The MBA Service Club is a student-run organization that seeks to extend the MBA community beyond the scope of the school. The group performs projects designed to give back to the larger Nashville community and to help boys realize their own roles as leaders within our city and world.  We hope that over time MBA gentlemen will learn to appreciate their relationships with others across the sometimes limiting lines of race, ethnicity, economic status, and other group identifications and to experience the value of working together towards common good.

As they grow in their involvement with the greater Nashville community, some boys are inspired to dig deeper into the work of our community partners, the neighbors served by those partners, the social justice issues surrounding the outreach, the financing of the work and other questions of importance to the well-being of citizens of Nashville.  Likewise, after traveling abroad with one of our overseas partners, the eyes, minds and hearts of our boys are frequently opened to issues beyond our border.  

The MBA Service Fellowship is founded with the intention of giving dedicated MBA Service Club members the opportunity to explore more deeply the work they do.  Under the guidance of Ms. Williams and other faculty members, boys can take the work they have done to another level by engaging in a study of some aspect of that work and ultimately producing a final project that expresses what they have learned.  The MBA Service Fellowship is intended to be a place of creativity, discovery, critical thinking, reflection and growth.  The ultimate goal is to gain a better understanding of our community at large, a deeper insight into himself and to  be better prepared to continue his role as an engaged citizen of Nashville and the world.

Students who complete the Service Fellowship process will earn the title of “MBA Service Fellow” and will be recognized at assembly and elsewhere.

What are the requirements?

Students within the Fellowship will engage in a deeper study of social, economic, equity and other issues within the service area they have already spent time in. Under the sponsorship of Ms. Williams, Dr. Rader and/or another faculty member, students will research their fieldwork area and report findings during informal weekly meetings with Ms. Williams.

Students within the Fellowship must identify and continue to build a partnership with an organization related to their research. For example, if a student is engaged in a hunger-related service project and spent his time at Loaves & Fishes prior to beginning the Service Fellowship, he is expected to continue to engage with a hunger-related service organization as he conducts research. 

At the end of each semester, students within the Fellowship Program will present their semester’s research findings and work to the Service Club. This presentation should include an analysis of their experience, report of findings and recommendations for organizations working with the issues covered within the student’s Service Fellowship experience.  If asked, participants should also be prepared to present their findings at assembly or to others within the MBA and greater Nashville community.

Finally, students will write a brief (2-3 page) reflection paper on their experience, addressing how their outlook on their area of service changed because of their Service Fellowship experience. Part of this paper will include answering the following question: How will I use this experience going forward? 

Service Fellowship Application Process

Juniors and Seniors who have earned at least thirty (30) total MBA service hours while in the high school by the time of application may apply for the MBA Service Fellowship.  A sophomore with exceptional past service engagement and at least 30 total MBA service hours may be eligible with specific approval of Ms. Williams or Dr. Rader.

At least twenty (20) of the thirty (30) hours completed during high school must be related to the field of study proposed for the fellowship. For example, if a student wants to study causes of hunger in Nashville, he may have earned his hours at Loaves & Fishes, Last Saturday Dinners, Nashville Food Project, Second Harvest or some combination of the Service Club projects addressing this issue.  

There is no “number” of events that a student has to attend.  The focus is on total hours.  For example, ten hours at Loaves & Fishes over three visits is equivalent to ten hours earned on a year-long project that culminates with a single event, like the Montgomery Bell Miracle.

Exceptions to the hours requirement can be made if students have fully engaged in a service project that does not allow for twenty hours of work. For example, students can fully participate in Donate Life Tennessee and fall short of the twenty hour requirements, but an exception will be made based on their past full participation. 

Students who have met requirements to apply will submit a proposal to Ms. Williams using this form.  Applicants are encouraged to seek guidance from Ms. Williams, another faculty member, leaders from an MBA Service Club community project or other mentor to develop and hone their proposal.  As part of the application, students will commit to continuing their service work within the areas of their study during the period of their fellowship.
Please feel free to reach out to annie.b.williams@montgomerbell.edu with any questions or if you need help.

    • Jack Kim, '22

Service Fellowship Update

So far, my Service Fellowship work has consisted of interviewing Katrina Frierson, the founder and CEO of Mending Hearts and following different intellectual leads based on that interview. When beginning this project, I had an idea of what I wanted to get across, but my interview with Ms. Trina gave me multiple different topics that I could write about. She mentioned how eighty to eighty-five percent of the women at Mending Hearts come from rural counties, have a hard time adjusting to city life in Nashville, and often lack the education that a job would require such as a GED. A man or family members are usually involved when the women start using. Ms. Trina said that the stigmatization from their addiction and the choices that they’ve made as a result can ostracize them from their families at a critical time. She brought up how former addicts are often unable to restore their “true rights” and that the system looks at “who I was not who I am.”  Ms. Trina has seen women be denied life insurance, social services cut off welfare programs, mothers or fathers being declared unfit, doctors refuse to offer treatment, and stigmatized negative language thrown at them because of their past addiction. 

I would like to have a section of my paper dedicated to elaborating on why social services, doctors, insurance companies, etc. are prejudiced against former addicts. I want to discover whether the decisions of these services to cut off aid is ever valid and show why certain preconceptions towards former addicts can be detrimental to their recovery and life post-recovery. I think that I will be able to find some answers to these questions when I shadow the Davidson County Drug Court on May 25th. Being able to see how and why the court makes its decisions on what to do with the people who are brought to drug court. 

Ms. Trina brought up how her family played a large role in her recovery process. I want to have another part of my paper focus on the effects addiction has on those around the family and friends of those addicted and how therapy can help people overcome all of the intense feelings surrounding their addiction and the effects it has on those close to them. 

Obviously, I’m not going to solve the problem of addiction in this paper, but I want to give people an understanding of what someone suffering from addiction and their family goes through during their period of addiction and recovery so that, when we encounter people going through tough situations, we can empathize with them and help make their lives a bit easier and more pleasant. 

Montgomery Bell Academy

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