“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up

by Alyzia McAlmon
ECU Graduate 2017, Student U Communication Intern, A.J Fletcher Community Engagement Fellow

I cannot tell you how many times I have changed my mind on what I wanted to be when I grow up. When I was six, I had dreams of being a doctor. At 12, I had hopes of one day becoming a Lawyer. At 18, I had ideas of becoming a Federal Agent with the FBI and even studied criminal justice and political science at East Carolina University to aid me in achieving my goal. As the wheels constantly turned in my head and I grew and matured, one thought remained consistent, I was destined to change the world in whatever profession I decided on.

Student U has supported me in numerous ways to make sure I am career ready and successful. The summer trips and tours to different universities along the east coast was a start. The countless recommendation letters and check-ins in college kept me motivated. Every summer was a different experience.

After graduating from East Carolina in May of 2017, I decided to take a gap year. At the time I had planned to use this gap year to figure out exactly what my next steps to success were. Student U supported my decision and kept me motivated in my planning process.

I have had countless opportunities to connect with people from all backgrounds. The diverse groups of teachers and community members I have had the privilege of meeting, have all played a small role in steering me closer to an answer for  “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

One connection in particular that I have formed through Student U is the one with Duke’s Office of Durham and Regional Affairs. I was recommended to apply for the A.J Fletcher Fellowship position by Ms. Z last October. The application process was long and tedious, but with the support of Ms. Z and my other colleagues at Student U, I was offered the position to become the A.J Fletcher Community engagement Fellow with Duke’s Office of Durham and Regional Affairs in February.

No one’s path to career readiness is the same; everyone’s journey will be unique; but what we do have in common is that we are members of the Student U family and we have one another for support.

Student U has helped me gain a sense of appreciation for home, for Durham. Service field trips and volunteer efforts showed me how important it is to stay involved in my community. My experience in the community with Student U and the knowledge I will gain from my fellowship at Duke, I am more motivated than ever to make a difference here in Durham.

Within the next five years, I aspire to work alongside influential members of our community, beyond my year-long position as a fellow, to find solutions to the affordable housing issues that have come with the growth and success of Durham. I wish to extend the same support that was given to me by Student U to current and future students in the program; And ultimately, I want to attend graduate school and pursue a degree in public policy.


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