Dawson County High School senior Shelby Duncan participated in a social justice program this summer at Samford University.
She was one of 14 students chosen to come to the university in Birmingham to spend the week of June 26 through July 1 studying at the Micah 6:8 Summer Institute.
"We tried to explore different definitions of justice, mercy and humility throughout all of the span of time," Shelby said. "We read Plato's ‘Republic' ... and what Socrates has to say about justice. We looked at C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" and we looked at the Bible."
They also took a look at Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and spent time at the Civil Rights Institute where they heard from Civil Rights experts and community leaders with firsthand experience.
At the end of the week they served in a community garden and fed the homeless, but it was during a trip to an orphanage in Haiti two years ago, Duncan decided she needed to help.
She was on the trip to serve in a crèche (transition home) and an orphanage with an organization called Chances for Children. What she saw influenced her educational choices and ultimately what she believes will be her career path.
"We did go to a true orphanage farther away and the kids are never going to leave there because it is so corrupt and the man in charge uses them for labor," she said.
"I feel like somebody can do something to make that stop and I don't know what that something is but I feel like I can do something," she said.
That's when the 17-year-old decidedshe wanted to study law so that she could work at an international level to fight for women and children.
"I want to be a lawyer to fight for women's rights in India and other countries where they have human trafficking going on and then for orphans who don't have a voice," Duncan said.
Samford University is her top choice among colleges and she got a good feel for the Micah Fellows Program at the school.
The Micah Institute focuses on the Bible verse Micah 6:8: "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
The emphasis for the program is to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly.
"They are all connected is what we found. Once you have one you are supposed to kind of have all of them and that will affect how you live," she said.
"One thing I learned in Haiti is that we must focus on all the needs of the people we serve. It is important to feed the hungry, but it is also important to love them. The children at the orphanage were starved for attention and desperate for love."
Duncan attends Corinth Baptist Church in Gainesville where she has participated in outreach projects like helping at local schools and outreach efforts on trips like one last year to Myrtle Beach.