Andrew Odom flips through his binder Tuesday, that details all of his goals and visions for his 2012 Living Democracy Selmont Project. His binder includes everything from his personal biography to lists of websites for information on Selma. He even has a section of motivational speeches about civil duty. -- Ashley Johnson

Odom seeks to engage not invade

Published 5:55pm Tuesday, June 5, 2012

There is a new guy in town and he is here for what he believes are all of the right reasons.

Andrew Odom, a recent Auburn University graduate, is interning with Living Democracy this summer in Selma before heading to Jones School of Law in the fall. Living Democracy is an initiative through Auburn University in which students take part in a yearlong journey of immersing themselves in civil and community engagement in small towns around Alabama.

Seven students are currently enrolled in the program and stationed this summer in towns like Bayou La Batre, Marion, Linden, Collinsville, Elba and Hopson City.

Odom hails from Prattville and he said the Black Belt is close to his heart and a big part of his overall purpose in going to law school. This summer he will work for Living Democracy in conjunction with Old Cahawba and the Summer Feeding Program as well as mentor students from the Dallas County Gifted Program—all while living in the historic John Tyler Morgan House.

Odom said he wants to hit one point home with the youth he will mentor through the summer.

“It is my hope that the youth I mentor can work effectively and make their mark on the community,” Odom said. “I really hope for some of these bright kids that once they go off and obtain their college degree that they will feel a responsibility to their city and come back and try to make a difference, rather than moving away to a big city and just leaving Selma brain-drained.”

Odom’s overall vision with Old Cahawba and the gifted students is to be a part of a bike trail being constructed through Cahawba.

“I want to let the experience of Old Cahawba stay with them for the rest of their lives so they can cherish these natural resources and historical treasures,” Odom said.

As a new guy in town, he has a motto about being here and working as someone to start positive change.

“This is a civil and community engagement,” Odom said. “An engagement is an engagement, it’s not an invasion. You don’t come in on your high horse and say ‘I’m from a university and I’m here to save you.’”

Odom said he would instead talk to people and ask them what their needs are; what issues they are faced with.

His overall career goal is to become a judge in south Alabama and one day see drug courts become a state-wide program.

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