Union students are no strangers to serving in the Jackson community. One of the ways students are serving the community is through Young Life.
Young Life is a ministry to high school students that uses volunteer leaders to go into the world of high school students in order to form meaningful relationships. Pointing students toward the Gospel is key in the mission of the organization. Young Life serves four high schools in Jackson and has over 40 volunteer leaders from Union.
“Being a Young Life leader and a student has been a huge part of my college experience and ultimately has changed my life,” said Mabry Gardner, senior social work major and Young Life leader at Madison Academic High School. “I feel like I have put down roots in this city because of leadership.”
Young Life is a large time commitment for volunteer leaders who spend numerous hours a week at the school, spending time at Young Life club on Monday nights and investing in relationships with their high school friends outside of the school.
“It’s hard to stay on campus all the time and lead Young Life because I’m driving across town to go to basketball games or having club in a neighborhood,” Gardner said. “It’s hard not to fall in love with Jackson because of Young Life.”
Balancing this time commitment with being a student can be difficult, said Andrew Stricklin, senior chemistry major and Young Life leader at University School of Jackson.
“Like any ministry, Young Life requires sacrifice,” Stricklin said. “Being faithful to the Lord by leading Young Life requires passing up on some desires and opportunities that come about in my life as a student.”
Despite the struggle of the two time commitments, both Gardner and Stricklin said that being a Young Life leader has led them to grow more connected with the community as a whole.