The purpose of this interpretive, modified grounded theory qualitative study was two-fold. The first purpose of this study was to interpret the knowledge/understanding of servant leadership, lived experience as it pertained to servant leadership development, motivations for participation, and perceived influence service participation had on personal, academic, and career goals of millennials who participated in Pepperdine University's Alternative Spring Break (ASB) leadership development and service program, Project LEAD (Leadership Education and Development), between the years 2008-2010. The second purpose of this study was to use collected data as a means for developing an alternative model for Project LEAD that furthers understanding of the role leadership plays (for millennial Project LEAD participants) in serving others. This study used a modified grounded theory methodological design for data collection and analysis. Audio-recorded semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 7 millennials who were Project LEAD participants between the years 2008-2010. Nine key interview questions were asked to examine servant leadership practices and characteristics, leadership development, motivation for participation, and influence of participation on participants' personal, academic, and career goals. The findings from this study indicated millennial Project LEAD participants demonstrated (a) knowledge/understanding of Self-Awareness and Conceptualization as servant leadership practices and characteristics, (b) a belief that Self-Awareness and Awareness were the servant leadership practice and characteristic most important to leadership development, (c) both self- and other motivations for Project LEAD participation, and (d) a belief that Project LEAD participation did have some influence on personal, academic, and career goals. It was concluded Project LEAD (a) builds millennial participants' servant leadership knowledge and provide opportunities to improve servant leadership practice, via conducting leadership workshops in under-served schools and interviewing leaders; (b) positively influences participants' growth, leadership and skill development, and self-understanding by promoting a collaborative environment in which participants learn and grow together from challenges faced while in unfamiliar locations; and (c) provides participants on the pursuit of influencing positive change with experiences and opportunities that encourage participants to expand beyond comfort zones, assist participants in developing and practicing their leadership, and promote commitment of participants to making future positive differences in other people's lives.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Leadership, administration, and policy; Student volunteers in social service; Servant leadership

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Purrington, Linda;