East Texas Baptist University acknowledged two students on Monday, October 8 for their service to the campus and community. Seniors Mpanga Chanda from Lusaka, Zambia, and Sheldon McGowan from Tyler, Texas, were awarded the Bob and Gayle Riley Servant Leadership Award during a special chapel service. ETBU President Emeritus Bob Riley and his wife, Gayle, presented the students with a replica of the “Divine Servant” statue, created by Max Greiner, that stands outside of ETBU’s Ornelas Spiritual Life Center.
“It was an honor and privilege to serve the students, faculty, and staff of East Texas Baptist from 1992 to 2009. God blessed us then and He continues to bless this University,” Dr. Riley shared. “Gayle and I are always happy to be back on campus, and we look forward to giving the Servant Leadership Award each year. I encourage you all to strive for excellence in your own servant leadership. As the greatest example of Christian servant leadership is Jesus Christ, Gayle and I were blessed to provide the Max Greiner statue at ETBU as a reminder to all of us of the importance of serving those around us and around the world. I am convinced that the University will raise up men and women as servant leaders now and in future generations, who will make a difference as they serve in their careers.”
The Bob and Gayle Riley Servant Leadership Award is given annually to two upperclassmen students, who exemplify the characteristics of a Christian servant leader. Peers, faculty, and staff nominate students in recognition of their commitment to Christ’s model of servanthood. During his time as President, Dr. Riley established the award to promote the attitude and behavior of Christ-centered servant leaders among students at ETBU.
“I think Christian servant leadership is intentionally giving yourself to the service of others,” Chanda said. “It involves sacrifice, discernment, and the ability to lead by empathy and maturity rather than by rank. Christian servant leadership is about leading with the goal of glorifying God and serving those around you.”
Dean of the School of Business and Enactus sponsor Barry Evans announced Mpanga Chanda as the female award recipient. Chanda is an Accounting major, who has served in numerous roles throughout her time at ETBU including Supplementary Instruction Tutor in Accounting and Economics, worship leader in chapel and at Greenhouse Ministry events, and as head of the recycling project for Enactus.
“Since her first semester on campus, Mpanga has been intentional about service,” Dean of Library Services Elizabeth Ponder said. “In her Learning and Leading project, Mpanga was troubled by the amount of paper waste at our local Marshall schools. She worked with the teachers and administrators at Lee Elementary to come up with a plan to help them reduce their paper waste. Although not required for class, Mpanga actually implemented her plan and was able to make a positive change on that campus. She takes her call to lead and serve seriously.”
Sheldon McGowan was introduced as the male award recipient by Dean of the School of Humanities Jerry Summers. McGowan, a Secondary Education major with a concentration in Social Studies, has been an active leader on and off campus with Student Government Association (SGA), Culture Outreach Ministries (.COM), and at the Greater Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Marshall as Senior Pastor.
“Jesus Christ gave us many examples of servant leadership – how he fed the hungry, taught those who needed teaching, and protected those who needed protection,” McGowan commented. “I know that I will never be able to have the impact Christ had on the lives of many, but I strive to do the best I can in order to show the same love that Christ has shown me.”
Fellow student, junior Shenari Green, notes, “He serves the school and community, not for award or recognition, but for the joy in helping others succeed. He never meets a stranger. He stops and prays with the homeless. Going to his church, I’ve seen how he has led his congregation through service.”
Chair of the Department of History Sandy Hoover shared that McGowan impresses him most when he approaches others that need help in class, “I’m sure that I don’t see most of what he does for his classmates, but I am encouraged by his understanding of others’ struggles and his willingness to place their needs above his own comfort.”