Leadership Fellows News

Meet the New Chair!

Class: Spring 2020

Major: Biology with a Biochemistry minor on the pre-PA track

Hometown: Staten Island, New York and Central Jersey

Fun Fact: This is my least favorite question, because I never know what to say! I love to cook for friends, I’m only 5’1.” Here’s an embarassing (fun) fact- I have fallen down every hill/staircase on campus at least twice.

Mariella DiStefano is a junior majoring in Biology with a minor
in Biochemistry on the Pre-PA track. She will be serving as
Chair of the Board for the Spring 2019 and Fall 2020 semesters.

What are you involved in on campus?

There are a few different things I’m involved with on campus. Currently, I am involved different ministries and clubs like Wednesday Night Worship, Chapel Worship team, International Justice Mission, and Sigma Zeta science honors society. In the past, I’ve been a part of the Student Activities Board, Student Chaplain program, the Leadership Fellows Program small groups, and Earthkeepers.

In what leadership roles have you served on campus? How has the LFP helped you in these roles?

I’ve been really blessed to have served as a leader in lots of the clubs and ministries I mentioned previously. I was a Chapel Worship team leader, a team leader for Wednesday Night Worship, and a Student Chaplain in a residence hall. Now, I am a member of the Leadership Fellows Program board (as well as being Chair), I’m co-President of Wednesday Night Worship, and I TA for a biology lab! LFP has not only given me direct opportunities to step into leadership, such as being a small group leader, member of the board, and the current Chair, but has also equipped with me for other types of leadership, both on and off campus. Through the freshmen year small group, the classes built into the program, and the relationships formed in my cohort (and in the cohorts above and below my own!) and with Dr. Stutzman, I’ve grown as a leader in the areas of service, patience, delegation, communication, and innovation.

What are you passionate about?

I am really passionate about a lot of things, but mostly about people. I love seeing people realize their potential. I love watching a person choose to take a step that is outside of their comfort zone, but will allow them to grow in a new way. I love listening to people and making them feel heard and understood. I love community. I also love learning about people that are different from me, and making those who are forgotten feel recognized and cared for and remembered. One of my biggest passions developed this summer, when I had the privilege of living in South Dakota on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for three months. This reservation is in the poorest county of the United States, with an unemployment rate of 73%, and increasing. Doing construction work and being around members of the Oglala Lakota community all day and leading worship for youth groups all night allowed some of my biggest passions to culminate into an experience that radically impacted me, and shaped the way I will live for the rest of life. That was a really long explanation, sorry!

What are your responsibilities as Chair?

As Chair of LFP, I get to lead orientation (the best thing ever!), be involved with the Board, meet with Dr. Stutzman, and help plan events for the current members of LFP. Really, I just get to hang out with people in LFP all the time and do things to serve them and our EU community as a whole, so I’m a happy camper!

What would you like to see happen over this next year that you're Chair?

I’ve been thinking about all the different things that could happen this year. Being Chair is a great position, but it is also hard, because you’re given the opportunity to make a lasting mark on the LFP, and on Eastern as a whole. After talking with the Board, we’ll definitely continue to host events for LFP members every month to give everyone an opportunity see each other have fun together. Additionally, since I am a student worker in the Undergraduate Admissions Office, I would really like to be involved in reaching out to the future 2023 cohort of LFP, and to help with the recruiting process. There has been discussion of incorporating aspects of service into our program, both on and off campus. Lastly, as someone who has been a small group leader for LFP for the past two years, I would love expand that program, since it so fundamental to the way we come together as a community of servant-leaders.

Meet the 2018 Barnabas Servant Leadership Award Winners!


Kierra Zack

Hometown: Dillsburg, Pennsylvania

Class of: Spring 2019

Major: Nursing

Fun Fact:  It's super easy to make me laugh and I love cheesy jokes and
puns. My favorite joke is: What did the helicopter say to the clouds
when he flew up into the sky? "I'm a huge fan!"

Andrew Behnam

Hometown: Exton, Pennsylvania

Class of: Spring 2019

Major: Exercise Science

Fun Fact:  I am a pitcher on the baseball team, I am the president of
Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), I am a member of Student
Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), and I am the founder and player
representative of our baseball booster club! In high school I also
achieved the rank of Eagle Scout!

The Barnabas Servant Leadership Award is given to rising seniors who have demonstrated outstanding leadership on campus or in the community. The purpose of these awards is to promote the ideals of servant leadership. Awardees are recognized during Fall Convocation, and receive a monetary grant and additionally receive a matching grant to be awarded to the charity of their choice.

What charity did you choose to give the grant to?

Kierra - I chose to give the grant money to the Laurel House, which is based out of Montgomery County. It's a center that offers a variety of resources to victims of Domestic Violence, whether it is through conducting presentations on healthy relationships to prevent abuse or through helping individuals relocate to escape their abusers. 

Andrew - I decided to donate the grant to FCA. At FCA, we have weekly meetings, or “huddles,” where students on campus come together for a time of fellowship, worship, food, and usually a guest speaker!

Why did you choose this charity?

Kierra - Domestic Violence has always been a cause that is near and dear to my heart and I wanted to give to a facility that I could really see benefiting from our donation. 

Andrew - I chose FCA because I want to leave a legacy when I am gone. I want the classes that follow to make the club better each year, and extra donations can go a long way in trying to do that. FCA has only been at EU for two years, so there is so much room for growth moving forward.

What have you learned as a member of the LFP that helped you to be a servant leader at EU?

Kierra - LFP has taught me a lot about my strengths as a leader and has given me the confidence to be bold in my leadership positions. I tend to be a bit soft-spoken and have always valued placing an emphasis on setting a good example for others to follow over being the most vocal, but at times this has prevented me from serving everyone to the best of my ability. Being in LFP has helped me to realize my worth and has given me confidence in my ability to help others.

Andrew - The lessons I have learned from LFP are lessons I can take with me for the rest of my life. Over the years, I have gained a better sense of what servant leadership is. LFP has given me tools that I can use in my future endeavors. I have worked and lead many groups through LFP, and that has given me much needed experience in leadership. Above all else, I have learned that not every person responds to the same type of leadership, and that communication is definitely needed when leading a group.

How has your involvement and leadership at EU influenced you?

Kierra - Being a student at Eastern has had a huge impact on me. As a captain serving on both the cross country and track teams for the past 3 years, Eastern has helped to shape me as a leader in so many ways, and I didn't have to wait until I was an upperclassmen to have this honor. I feel confident carrying the skills I've learned from my time at Eastern into the field of nursing and I know for a fact that I would not be as ready had I not had the opportunities that I have been blessed with at Eastern.

Andrew - I could go on and on about how this campus has influenced me over my 4 years here. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for the leadership from my Mom. I was blessed to have seen what active leadership looked like at an early age. When I first came to EU, in the words of my head coach, I was “a wide-eyed freshman just taking everything in”. Thanks to Eastern and the abundant amount of opportunities I have gotten to succeed; I have evolved so much since then. This is in part to the amazing people and faculty members whom I know I will remain close with for a very long time.

What are your plans post-graduation?

Kierra - In terms of my plans for graduation, they change almost every week so I don't quite have the answer you are probably looking for! I know for certain I want to be a nurse, I just need to find the right hospital and I'm really looking forward to finding the right fit for me.

Andrew - Upon graduation, I plan to continue my internship as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Villanova. While doing so, I plan on coming back to EU in the fall to get my MBA, and help out with the baseball team. Once that is over, I intend to go back to school to get my Doctor of Chiropractic’s degree. 

Kierra Zack ('19) and Andrew Behnam ('19) were recently awarded the Barnabas Servant Leadership Award during Eastern University's Fall Convocation.
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