My name is Jalani Akeem Traxler. I was born January 21, 1992 in Minneapolis, Minnesota at Riverside hospital to Cindy and Charles Traxler. I am an only child and spent the majority of my childhood in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was accepted to Morehouse College in Spring of 2010. This was a big shift because it would be the first point spending substantial time away from my parents. Subsequently I enrolled at Morehouse College Fall of 2010 thus beginning a career in academy and the next phase of life. One thing I learned while being in college is the importance of focus. For me to come to this point of clearness was through the encouragement of others; through experience I understand one cannot walk any road alone. There is still much for me to learn but, I have faith that anything I set out to do will be accomplished with precision as long as I stay open to receiving the wisdom and blessings of the Lord. Through self reflection and meditation on daily lessons and communal life I hope to be granted this clarity in applying my finite knowledge of everlasting life and faith in my influence toward others.
This year I will be serving at Holy Comforter Church and The Friendship Center.
Hi my name is Ryan Bigg. I am 23 years old and from Lilburn, Georgia. I went to Parkview High School in Lilburn, then Oxford College of Emory University and went on to graduate from Emory University majoring in Sociology and Religion. I enjoy spending time with my two parents Amy and Tom as well as my sister Morgan, who is a senior in nursing school at Emory University. I love watching and playing sports, especially college football and basketball, as well as spending time with my friends and family. I have a growing passion to want to help others. I find myself happiest when I am helping or interacting with people. This is why I am so excited to be a part of The Road: to be able help people as a part of their community. I am also looking forward to being a part of The Road because I want to broaden my sense and idea of serving others in the non-profit sector.
This year I will be serving at Emmaus House.
Lauren Kay Bush
Born and raised in the middle of Indiana farms and fields, I am deeply instilled with good ol’ Midwestern hospitality. For the past eleven years, I found my place as a Southeastern coastal dweller, living mostly in Charleston, SC. I love to be surrounded by nature and bodies of water, so the Atlanta city-scape is a big adjustment! I am blessed to have an incredibly supportive family; to be a daughter, sister, niece and auntie to many wonderful souls.
Serving with AmeriCorps, I discovered my true love for servant leadership. As a construction crew leader with Habitat for Humanity, I learned about building and design and went on to work in the construction, architectural and engineering industry for the next decade. During that time, my love for serving others got funneled into volunteering with my church and other organizations, such as equine assisted therapy, lay hospital chaplaincy, and the recovery community. This year, I made the bold choice to leave the comforts of the life I’ve known and dive into a year of service-work and discernment with ESC. Driven by the immense Love and Grace which blesses my life, I also took a leap of faith and officially began the process toward ordination in the Episcopal Church. “Because God was so very gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste.” (1 Cor. 15:10) Music, writing, and art are a handful of my other passions, and I love to see ways I can incorporate them into worship and serving others. I also enjoy hiking, roadtripping/traveling, seeing new places and things, and meeting new people.
This year I will be serving at Church of the Common Ground
Home is a suburb of Indianapolis, Indiana where my family has lived since my early childhood. I grew up with the precious awareness that I was unconditionally loved and supported by family and friends. I recently graduated from Purdue University, where I majored in Biology and minored in Spanish. My college years were spent learning as much as possible and wishing that I could major in everything. My heart and mind are most strongly pulled towards understanding cultures, faith, inequalities, and the natural world. I love asking big questions and encouraging those around me to do the same.
When I first discovered The Road, something deep inside of me said “Yes!” and I knew that I had found my next step. Since that moment, I have felt a continuous pull to Atlanta and I believe that God has big plans for this year. I am looking forward to eye opening work, important self-reflection, deep relationships, and lots of learning. In the midst of it all, I hope to better discern where I can most effectively contribute to positive change in the world. I am happiest while spending time with other people and sharing in some good old-fashioned laughter. If we also happen to be traveling together or drinking coffee or hiking, it’s even better!
This year I will be serving at Habitat for Humanity.
I’m Amber Stapleton, a First-Year Road Fellow with the Episcopal Service Corps. I graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History. With these majors, I discovered my passion for researching and learning about the historical and current-day systematic policies that have created and continue to create marginalized communities in our society. In my final year at Agnes Scott College, I conducted two senior theses on the consequences of racist U.S. policies; one, focused on the institution of adoption and the other on current Stand Your Ground laws.
It was after graduating from college that I realized it just wasn't enough to understand these policies, but I wanted to dedicate my life's work to personally dismantling them as well. Postponing law school, I decided I wanted to take some time away from academia to obtain hands-on experience in engaging, organizing, and advocating with communities in need. It's with this goal in mind, I discovered The Road. I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of an intentional community rooted in building just, compassionate, and liberating communities. One day, I hope to become a public defender dedicated to representing communities in need especially communities of color.
During my time with The Road, I would like to explore learning more about social justice and activism as well as incorporating that knowledge into my future law career.
This year I will be serving at Georgia Justice Project.
K J Lewis
Hi! My name’s KJ and I’m from Chester, WV, home of the World’s Largest Teapot. I have an older sister who lives in Montreal and two parents, both of whom are ministers in the PC(USA). I grew up 27 steps away from my mom’s church, which means I spent my childhood army-crawling under pews and pounding thumbtacks into dress shoes so I could tap dance on the linoleum. When I was 15, I moved to a boarding school for unusual teenagers, where I learned many important life skills, such as dream interpretation and how to ride a mechanical bull. I then attended Agnes Scott College, where I had a fantastic time studying creative writing and philosophy. The year after graduation, I worked in marketing for Childspring International, a nonprofit that provides surgeries for children in developing countries. I’m joining The Road because I seem to have little choice in whether or not I’m a Christian, and I’m hoping the people I meet this year will help me make sense of that. I’d also like to learn how best to be useful in the world.
My interests include snacks, cutting hair, writing, games of all kinds, and climbing things. Wonderings include what meaning is and why humans have a near-universal need to make it, how to dismantle all systems of oppression and quell the urge to harm other people, and what/whether God is.
This year I will be serving at 9to5.
Hi, my name is Carmelle Nitereka, a second year fellow with The Road. I was born within the vibrant landlocked hills of Burundi, a birthmark on Africa’s wide geographic landscape which I carry in my heart. While I was raised in Canada and later the U.S., I came to be who I am because I carry the essence of those whose souls have marked a path that guides me. My cultural background has always served as a personal compass in my life. I find myself to be a reflection of the women and men who nurtured the path that led me here.
My first year with The Road ESC has been a place of refuge to build a deeper understanding around social justice and community. In my second year with The Road, I hope to cultivate more enriching experience and go deeper in my practice towards a beloved community. I'll be continuing my placement with my wonderful team at Lutheran Services of Georgia, providing employment services to recently resettled refugee and asylee clients. My clients have been a meaningful part of my journey and have become an extension of my community!
This year I will be serving at Lutheran Services of Georgia: Refugee Resettlement.
Throughout my life, my surroundings and culture have constantly shaped the person that I am through a process of constant reflection and discernment. In trying to find my path in life I have always found that life finds you instead. I am Mindy Velasquez and I grew up in southern California with my parents and younger sister and brother. As the oldest of three children, I was the first in my family to attend college and navigate through this new world that brought diverse insights and opportunities to myself and those around me. With the support of my family as I delved in this new undertaking, I received my Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from California State University San Bernardino. Through studying sociology I gained an insight into societal issues that I realized extended beyond the personal struggles of my family, friends and community. The challenges I witnessed along the path of my life have inspired me, as these events and new insights usually come with deeper understandings. From this personal journey that has grown and continues to grow in perspective, I hope to deepen my understanding of society and community through The Road and gain discernment in my call to service through experience, interaction and support. Aside from my social interests I enjoy music, baseball, reading, baking and spending time with my family.
This year I will be serving at Catholic Charities: Refugee Resettlement.
Demarius J. Walker
I am a young man earnestly seeking the will of the Divine through experiments with Truth and Love. I was born and raised in Southwest Atlanta and through the magnet program was able to attend Henry W. Grady High School in Midtown Atlanta, where I engaged in activities such as Debate and Mock Trial. I later studied philosophy and political science at Boston University. Beyond the classroom my explorations took the form of getting involved in student government, student activist organizations, and working as a student chaplain Marsh Chapel. My spiritual journey started at a baptist church in Vine City; later, I worked in Methodist tradition in Boston, and now I have joined the Episcopal Church, after becoming acquainted with it through the Episcopal Service Corps. I feel called to liberate the Creative potential that lies dormant in God's broken Creation, through the maintenance of beloved community. As a Road fellow I hope to learn more about what it means to live in beloved community and how to live an intentional life with Divine purpose.
This year I will be serving at Georgia Interfaith Power and Light.
Loneliness is a strong contender for the worst feeling humans struggle with. It has met with me in places both empty and crowded, full of noise and full of silence. Each time I encountered that ringing hollow space my desire for community grew - an impulse that brought me to deep wells of Life.
My first major encounter with the Kingdom came in the form of soft summer breezes, sand and grass, joyful shenanigans, the shining laughter of children, and a devoted staff community threading it all into a humble, powerful reflection of what heaven might be like. It was intoxicating. I spent five summers working at Ryerson Camp and have spent several more there in varying capacities since then.
The second was a neighbouring well, as a staff member of Leadership Development Camp. Together with a bus full of sixteen year olds, three camps and a national park to visit, a handful of dedicated comrades, and one dog we make our way across southern Ontario, returning with a caravan of hearts steeped in God.
The third draught I found in a little valley village called Norval. After drinking so deeply of summers filled with Christ, I longed to quench the persistent thirst that would find me in the fallen leaves and the cold winds, with camp so far away. Norval was my first experiment with intentional living outside the camp community. While it did nourish me in new and challenging ways, I left with an even stronger longing to lay down roots in directions no commercial or guidance counsellor would point out: towards relationships, simplicity, and the true callings of the Gospel.
I found The Road because of my search for Jesus and for the places He is at work in the world. Now that I'm here, my search for His will continues, often in the small, the unforeseen, and the surprising. My hope for now remains 'learning how to be more like Jesus,' that one day I might become a man after God's own heart.
Further up and further in!
This year I will be serving at L’Arche Atlanta.