I applied to DukeEngage to understand whether or not the nonprofit sector was a good fit for me. I have mainly spent my time working at the Family Independence Initiative, a nonprofit whose whole goal is to increase economic mobility and close the gap in the safety net in order to effectively end the cyclical nature of poverty by providing capital to low-income families that have shown initiative to get out of poverty. Often times, once families cross over the poverty line, they get cut off completely and suddenly from the resources (like food stamps) that helped them get there so they fall back into poverty, perpetuating this cycle.
I was able to do a lot of qualitative and quantitative research in order to recommended different resources for the organization to offer. I also worked on an action plan to establish contact with disengaged clients and retain more clients in the future. I was really happy with the work I had the opportunity to do but the program was a lot more than that.
One image I will never forget from this summer was the night my roommates stayed up until 3AM trying to fix Greek life at Duke. We would have a lot of mandatory reflection sessions to talk about issues in the world, but they were never as good as the spontaneous conversations that we would have at midnight simply because this was what we cared about and what we wanted to talk about. I really appreciated how honest, compassionate and inclusive my group was throughout our entire time together. We went on so many adventures, walked over 10 miles a day at least 10 times over the course of 2 months and had so much fun just sitting around talking to one another.
I definitely did learn more about the nonprofit sector. I do not think that I will ever want to do work that does not feel meaningful. I am very thankful for DukeEngage for providing me with the opportunity to try working in a “non-traditional” sector. Perhaps, it is true that you will never really know whether or not you like something until you actually do it. Thanks for letting me actually do it.