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Racing to Your Life Calling

One of my fondest memories as a child was career day in elementary school. On that day, everyone dressed up like the person they wanted to be like when they grew up. I remember one year I wanted to be a NASCAR driver. My mother dressed me up in a race suit and a cardboard box that she managed to make look like a race car. We then had the opportunity to go out to the bus parking lot to meet the people we wanted to be later in life.

When I arrived at Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) as a transfer student, I had come a long way from wanting to be a NASCAR driver. I had my sights on becoming a youth pastor. However, I had no idea that was about to change, thanks to some people with a special heart for helping others.

Johnson Scholarship Foundation creators Theodore R. Johnson and his wife, Vivian Chesley Macleod Johnson, recognized the importance of helping people who were less fortunate, and so did PBA’s founders. One of PBA’s longest running traditions is Workship. This term was created by Doris Moody, the wife of PBA’s founding President Dr. Jess Moody. The Moodys believed that students who have been called to PBA were also called to be servant leaders in their community. Doris had combined the words “work” and “worship” because she saw the volunteer work in our community as a form of worship to the Lord. As a faith-based institution, PBA believes that one of God’s commandments is to serve and love others. Students learn how to respond to the needs in the community. Today, as the director of Workship, I have an opportunity to help students use their volunteerism as a way to discover their life-callings.

Johnson Scholar Judson Crawford, Assistant Pastor of The Tabernacle Church Kevin Jones and Workship Director Nathan Chau in 2019.

Johnson Scholar Judson Crawford was one student I had the pleasure of mentoring through the Workship program. He came to West Palm Beach from rural Georgia to study psychology, and the Johnson Scholarship helped make his PBA education possible. He quickly became involved with the Rosemary Village Afterschool Program in partnership with The Tabernacle Church. Through this program, Judson worked with inner-city youth. He helped them with homework and taught them important life lessons. The children who participated looked up to Judson as an older brother. He was the strong and positive male figure that so many of the children were missing in their lives. Judson saw the positive impact that he had with the children. 

As an educational institution, PBA shares the Johnson Scholarship Foundation’s conviction that education is the best means to empower people. Judson’s PBA education in psychology empowered him to empower the families served by the Rosemary Village Afterschool Program. Because of his education, Judson understood why the children acted the way they did, and he communicated more effectively with them and their parents. In 2018, the Newman Civic Fellowship recognized Judson for his work with the Rosemary program, naming him a member of the 2018-2019 cohort. Judson’s volunteer work and psychology studies eventually led him to a career in law enforcement. Graduating in 2019, Judson landed a spot with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

It is stories like Judson’s that inspire me in my work. When I arrived at PBA in 2011, I thought I would be on a church staff after graduation. Instead, I discovered that student ministry could be done as a teacher, mentor, or even working alongside volunteers. I fell in love with PBA and did not want to leave when I graduated in 2013. When the opportunity arose to work with the Workship community service program, I took it! Here I am, over eight years later, loving every moment of what I get to do for the students and my community.

When students step foot on campus, we want them to dream and explore their interests. Our hope is that they discover their life-calling through their experiences and are recognized for their hard work. Judson was one of many Johnson Scholars at PBA who discovered his dream career through his community service.


Nathan Chau is director of Workship at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication in 2013 and a Master of Science degree in Leadership in 2016.

Why Volunteering Matters to Young People

The following article was written by Korinne, a Pathways to Education graduate from Shawinigan, Quebec. Pathways and JSF are proud to join Korinne in celebrating National Volunteer Week and the countless volunteers who donate their time and expertise to help young people achieve success.

It’s National Volunteer Week in Canada right now, and this annual celebration has inspired me to reflect on the important role volunteers have played in my life.

I will always remember Joanie, a volunteer who truly made a difference in my academic journey.

She was a volunteer tutor at Pathways to Education, and she spent many long hours helping me with my math homework.

I struggled a lot with math in high school, so her support made a big difference. I would often get quite discouraged and had a hard time motivating myself. But Joanie never gave up on me. She was infinitely patient and her contagious energy made it seem like math wasn’t the worst after all.

Two women with one wearing graduation cap and gown

It was after many long and demanding tutoring sessions that I realized how much Joanie had invested — not just in me, but in many other teenagers — and how important that time was to me.

Joanie helped me realize just how much I could accomplish. And that if I was able to overcome my struggles, everyone else could as well.

So, when I graduated from high school, I became a volunteer to help others, like Joanie helped me. It was a way to say ‘thank you’ to Joanie and to the other volunteers who supported not just me, but my entire community.

I strongly believe that volunteering at organizations like Pathways to Education is incredibly important for community growth. Some young people have trouble finding a caring and supportive framework during high school. It makes a big difference to have access to volunteers in safe environments that help you feel welcomed, supported in your studies and comfortable sharing how you’re doing.

Because of this, I think it’s important for cities to invest more in community involvement and to create additional opportunities for people to take part. I also think we can do a better job of making volunteering accessible and appealing to a younger crowd.

Donating their time can be a really powerful way for young people to enjoy the community they live in, and I encourage communities to invest in more meaningful volunteer opportunities that reflect youth interests, such as sports events, food festivals, and local shows.

The easier it is for young people to see themselves represented in volunteer opportunities, the more likely they’ll be to participate — creating a strong culture of volunteerism from a young age, and benefitting communities for generations to come.

Looking back today, it’s easy for me to see that volunteering has always been a huge part of my life. Whether it took the form of supportive tutors like Joanie or my own volunteering roles, volunteering has made me who I am, and I will always be always be grateful for that.

Service-Oriented Glades Student Named Leaders for Life Fellow

Long and very busy days are typical for high school senior Marie Sintulaire.

Besides excelling in her high school classes, she also participates in her school’s Johnson Scholars/Take Stock in Children college readiness program and takes college classes in the evening through dual enrollment. She has done all of this while completing more than 1,200 hours of community service.

Marie’s academic achievements and perseverance have earned her a special honor. She is one of only seven highly motivated students in the state of Florida to be named a recipient of Take Stock in Children’s Leaders for Life Fellowship, an award that comes with $40,000 in college scholarships plus internship opportunities and leadership training.

She learned of the news in January during at a surprise announcement at her school, Glades Central Community High School in Belle Glade, Florida. On hand for the presentation were her mother and the pastor of her church where she serves as a pianist.

“I knew the competition would be fierce, but I had no idea I could be a Leaders for Life Fellow,” said Marie, who plans to use her scholarship to study finance at Florida State University.

She recently traveled to Tallahassee for a Leaders for Life event, during which she and the other fellows met the governor and toured the state Capitol.

Marie is the youngest of five children. She will be a first-generation college student along with her older sister, who currently attends the University of Florida.

Marie said she first learned about the Leaders for Life Fellowship from Esther Benette, a graduate of the fellowship who is also from Palm Beach County. Esther, who received the fellowship in 2013, was a guest speaker at a Johnson Scholars/Take Stock in Children club meeting at Marie’s school.

Including Marie and Esther, four Palm Beach County students have been named Leaders for Life Fellows in the past eight years. The others are Victoria Estevez (2018) and Karla Menchu-Saban (2017).

Glades Central is one of 10 high schools in the School District of Palm Beach County to offer the Johnson Scholars/Take Stock program, which is supported by the Johnson Scholarship Foundation. Marie said she enjoyed going on college tours through the program, as well as participating in the workshops and club meetings.

“We talked about different skills and abilities that you need that you don’t normally discuss in class,” such as résumé writing and business etiquette, she said.

Throughout her time in the program, Marie also has received advice and encouragement during her weekly meetings with her mentor, Glades Central mathematics educator Dr. Cecelia Harriott. Marie said she appreciated having Dr. Harriott give her advice about school and life in general. She hopes other adults will want to help students through mentorship.

“I believe it’s an excellent part of the program,” she said. “You never know what piece of advice you give that plays an influential role in the life of your mentee.”

Lady Hereford is a program specialist with the Johnson Scholarship Foundation. She has spent significant time working in journalism and public relations, and she assists the Foundation’s communications efforts as it expands its impact across sectors. More information about the Johnson Scholarship Foundation can be found at www.jsf.bz.