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As I wrap up the final week of my DukeEngage experience, I reflect on the meaningful people with whom I interacted and the impactful experiences that occurred. My time in Columbia, South Carolina, with the National Association of Campus Activities exceeded my expectations, and I hope my service and time with the organization exceeded NACA’s expectations, as well. Looking back over these eight weeks, I remember some of my favorite times:

  • I remember being invited to lunch with four other NACA employees on my third day and how much it meant to me to begin forming relationships outside of work.
  • I remember trying Pure Barre during my first week and the supportive community of women that the class provided.
  • I remember my supervisor saying, “You just made half of the world’s day,” after I posted the results of who would be performing at our next showcase, which reminded me of the impact of nonprofit organizations’ work.
  • I remember my visitors: an old friend from home and my aunt and uncle from Greenville.
  • I remember going to different markets, restaurants, and stores, where I formed relationships with employees who remembered my vegetarian orders and almost-daily visits.
  • I remember the executive director emphasizing that the relationships formed here are for more than just my eight weeks with NACA, and I remember the way I felt when my supervisor thanked me for the work that I have been doing.

My work at the National Association of Activities expanded my understanding of what it means to serve a community and to work in the higher education world. I learned so much about serving the needs of a community and the importance of an organization stepping in to serve a community’s needs when no other organization or group is doing so. During my time with NACA, the organization exceeded my personal, professional, and service related goals for my time in Columbia. I was able to, and encouraged to, try new things and trusted with the responsibility to do so. I was taken out of my comfort zone, which forced me to embrace going with the flow and take risks. I was able to work on a list of projects on my own and complete tasks that left a tangible impact on the organization – from the construction of a new portion of the website to completing a large-scale data entry project. The projects that I completed during my time with the National Association for Campus Activities reminded me of the magnitude of impact that a small office can have on a community. As I uploaded past webinars on to the website, I learned more about the various topics that the organization tries to address, including diversity and inclusion, career development, and civic engagement. I do not think you can fit NACA’s goals and influence into one box or category, but I do know that the organization makes a difference in higher education in the United States. I am eager to see what NACA does next…