Ma’kayla’s path to Freedom School (FS) was fairly traditional. Her mother signed her up in the first grade at the former Billingsville FS site. On that day, the Freedom School family grew just a little bit larger. After her summers as a scholar, she decided to become a Junior Servant Leader Intern (JSL) where she continued her growth throughout her high school career. Now, as a second year Servant Leader Intern, Ma’kayla recalls her reasons for returning to Freedom School. It was the motivation and encouragement of her SLIs. “I was the first high school graduate in my family. They made me feel special honestly. It made me feel like I was worth something.”

Over the years the Freedom School program has been a space where Ma’kayla has learned invaluable skills. “It has taught me patience and how to interact with different personalities from scholars to my peers. It’s also good networking.” One of Ma’kayla’s original connections was with another former scholar now SLI, Amaia Parkins. “Every time I see her now, We say – remember when we were just scholars? Then JSLs? Now we’re SLIs!”

When it comes to the future of Freedom School, she would love to see more partners join the vision of FS to ensure the program is equitable for all scholars at all sites. She also wants to see more of her college peers get involved with FS. “I remember when people used to say you’d meet people in FS and they’ll be your friends forever. I didn’t believe it, but now literally half of my friends are from Freedom School.” Ma’kayla’s rich history with Freedom School is just beginning. She hopes to one day work with the summer program as a Site Administrative Intern and Site Coordinator in the years to come.

Servant Leader Ambassadors

Pictured: 2023 Servant Leader Ambassadors




Tip for new Servant Leader Interns: Talk to everyone around you. Ask questions – there are no stupid ones. Take everyday for the experience that it is. You’re not gonna have good days everyday. But the days that you do have them, take those days with you. Make the best of what Freedom School.

Find out more about the SLI experience here.