Students Learn Servant Leadership

December 22, 2019 | Youth | C.J. Anderson

The best leaders are servants at heart. High school students in Adventist Health Portland’s Student Healthcare Leaders (SHL) program learned this truth firsthand recently.

During one of the group’s weekly learning sessions this fall, the students worked with their mentors to pack 100 snack bags to give to families with children hospitalized at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. The hospital is associated with Adventist Health Portland’s partner, Oregon Health and Science University.

Intended for families facing extended stays at Doernbecher, the bags contained a variety of snacks, including trail mix, raisins, granola bars, graham crackers and water bottles. They also contained meal-prep items like soup, peanut butter, and tuna or chicken salad kits. The kids included a card in each bag as well.

Several student leaders joined Adventist Health Portland adminstrators to deliver the snack bags to Doernbecher on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. “Many people think being a leader is all about being the person in charge and guiding people,” says Jocelyn Bravo-Gutierrez, an SHL participant and sophomore at Springwater Trail High School in Gresham, Ore. “In reality it’s about giving back to the community and helping people out and much more.”

"In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus reminds us that 'whoever would be great among you must be your servant,'" says Cheri Hill, one of the SHL mentors. "Helping these students bring their servant hearts to actions that help other kids is an important part of their learning to be leaders."

During other weeks of the SHL program, the students get an insider’s view of many areas of the hospital, from operating rooms to food and plant services. The 10-week program gives students a chance to explore health care careers they might otherwise be unaware of. Since 2018, four classes of students from more than 15 local high schools have completed the program.

Students are guided in their journey by Hill plus Terry Johnsson, Adventist Health’s Pacific Northwest Region mission integration executive, and Emilie Butler, Walla Walla University assistant professor of nursing. Interested students can learn more and apply to the program at