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We Got Next: Carrington Motley

Posted on 19 June 2017

This June YXU has launched our "We Got Next" campaign, highlighting more than 20 young leaders from across the country who are applying their passions to strengthen their communities. Be sure to like YXU on Facebook, follow @yxulife on Twitter and Instagram to hear these stories and visit our store to grab a We Got Next tee supporting the Lebron James Family Foundation.

 

My ambition to contribute to the larger community was inspired early on by my time volunteering with several organizations but was influenced most significantly by my time with the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG). MCG is built on the premise that “environment drives behavior” and educates and inspires urban youth and adults for careers ranging from culinary arts to healthcare information technology. In high school I served as a volunteer counselor at a summer camp for elementary school children at MCG where children were received firsthand experience with the art world, editing pictures with PhotoShop, taking pottery classes, and even developing their own pictures. While at MCG, I saw firsthand how my presence was able to drastically and positively influence the children’s desire to learn by framing education in a fun and interactive way, and I felt deeply satisfied in giving back to my surrounding community.

As a freshman in college, I was drawn to a service-oriented pre-orientation program called the Freshman Urban Program (FUP). The program was compromised of two main parts. The first consisted of community service activities which introduced incoming freshman to opportunities they had to give back to the surrounding community. The second was a series of introspective group activities that provided moments to look forward and think back on your life experiences while becoming more self-aware of your own core values upon entering college. As a freshman in the program, I felt strongly affected by a particular group activity. During the group activity, everyone sat in a large circle and the counselors read a series of statements about life experiences with the instructions to stand if the statement applied to you. The statements include rather benign things such “I wish I was taller” as well more significant ones such as “I have been the target of racist insults” and “I have felt sexually harassed in an academic setting”. Seeing the wide variety of life experiences that my peers had had and the prevalence of certain others experiences truly opened my eyes to the breadth of backgrounds that would be coming together to define my collegiate experience. I came away from FUP really valuing my experience in the program and feeling like I had an obligation to help students who followed behind me gain the same benefit. Therefore over the next three years, I returned to the program, first as a volunteer counselor for two years, and lastly as one of the co-heads of the program.

Over each of the three subsequent years I sought to improve the program, culminating with my senior year when I was elected to co-head the program. My friend and I introduced a revamped program schedule, created specific outcome goals and skills with which freshman participants should exit the program having accomplished, and decreased the net cost of the program for the freshman participants. The end result of those changes were a more affordable program, a more focused programming agenda with concrete end of program goals for the freshman, and a significantly better experience for the incoming students as evidenced by end of program surveys.

I have long been motivated to be involved with my community and have worked with many different service groups. Throughout these experiences I have continually tried to find ways to pay it forward to the people younger than me. My experience with the Freshman Urban Program was particularly significant because in the early days of my collegiate career I was immediately connected with a diverse group of people committed to service. I am acutely aware that this unique impactful experience was made possible by the decision of others to volunteer their time. While the experience I highlighted was a college pre-orientation program, this is most definitely not always the case. I am positive that many people have had significant life experiences that were made possible by someone else volunteering their time. As such, I encourage you to reflect on your own experiences and to identify ways to get involved and pay it forward. We all have the opportunity to provide similar or even improved experiences to others that follow in our footsteps.

-Carrington Motley

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