In her first year at Vanderbilt, Elin pursued her passions of education and youth empowerment through involvement in a range of campus and community organizations. She served as a tutor and friend to youth through Pencil Pals, Vanderbuddies, Vanderbilt Student Organizations that serve students attending Nashville’s lowest performing schools. She also enjoyed the privilege of partnering with Vanderbilt’s flagship chapter of NextStep, which provides support to individuals with intellectual disabilities who enroll as students at Vanderbilt. Working with students to encourage and support their intellectual, emotional and social development, coupled with an incredible year of learning both in the classroom and within the Ingram Scholarship Program, provided the scaffolding for Elin’s Summer Project the summer following her freshman year. Partnering with Tara Mullally, a fellow Class of 2013 Ingram Scholar and wonderful thinker, Elin enjoyed the gift of traveling to a place close to her heart, Kingston, Jamaica. Tara and Elin created and taught a yearlong art therapy curriculum for children aged 1-7 and fundraised support to carry out a full remodel of the orphanage facilities during their summer in Kingston.
Sophomore year, Elin followed her passions through new opportunities, spending more time involved in indirect, organizational service than she ever had before. Working with fellow scholar Rachel Morris, she served as Co-Sponsorship chair for the Alternative Gift Fair, a campus organization that coordinates a Holiday Fair selling gifts that give back to others. She also continued her partnership with Tara as they collaborated to plan a Spring Break trip back to Kingston, Jamaica through Manna Project International’s Vanderbilt Chapter. Elin also worked with LEAD Academy Charter School in Nashville as a research intern conducting research and data analysis as they pursued new grants and growth opportunities. While learning about the organizational side of service endeavors, Elin also continued her involvement with NextStep.
Elin spent the first semester of her Junior year studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. Her time in Cape Town catalyzed a shift back to people-centered service, as she developed close relationships with three students through the student-run service program at the University of Cape Town, SHAWCO. Laughter, struggling through math problems, and sharing stories of their different experiences growing up bonded Elin and her three students extremely closely during their months together. Those relationships, coupled with the courses Elin took at the University focusing on the potential embedded in communities and the ability of youth to facilitate and spark powerful change in their communities, inspired much of the work Elin partook in upon returning to Vanderbilt for her spring semester. Working with Emily Woods, also an Ingram Scholar and fellow adventurer who also studied abroad in Cape Town, Elin spent much of the spring semester meeting with professors at Vanderbilt and writing drafts of a Curriculum designed to equip youth with the confidence, inspiration, awareness, strategies and skills to become servant leaders themselves. The curriculum, entitled “Fingerprints Student Leadership Training Program,” evolved into a summer experience for both Emily and Elin, as both are teaching pilot programs. Elin is teaching the curriculum to 1-8 graders at the Martha O’Bryan Center Summer Camp in East Nashville. Elin is also conducting research with a faculty mentor, Ann Neely, also the former director of the Ingram Scholarship Program, and fellow Ingram Scholar Mara Truslow, on the efficacy of creative writing programs in schools as stimulators of growth of creativity, empowerment and community building.
The Fingerprints curriculum represents a culmination of both the experiences and wisdom the Ingram Scholarship Program has facilitated in the past three years of Elin’s life. It is with gratitude and excitement that Elin looks to her senior year as an opportunity to share a curriculum designed to ignite the servant leadership potential of other youth with others. She also hopes to continue her relationship with the Martha O’Bryan Center in East Nashville, where she is teaching her pilot of the curriculum