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December 2011

The magic of looking out

Holiday greetings from Linda Carter, executive director of the Alumni Association

Immediately after completing graduate school in 1985, I accepted the call to serve as minister of music and youth at a church in Champaign, Illinois. With undergraduate and graduate degrees in organ performance and church music, the music part came fairly easily to me. The youth part…not so much.

Systematic theology and exegetical studies in Old and New Testament did not prepare me for working with adolescents and teenagers. How was I possibly going to help mold and shape rowdy, angst-ridden, hormone-driven and confused youths into tame and orderly church citizens? I quickly learned that nothing I could ever do would make that magically happen, but I did discover that getting them to focus on the needs of others helped us become something bigger and better altogether. By looking outward, and not inward at our own problems, something magical happened.

And so last spring, as our university endured even more drastic cuts in human and operational resources, I was overwhelmed by hopelessness and anxiety — feelings that took me back to those days in 1985 when I was challenged by that motley crew of a youth group. And then I remembered…

UNCG needed qualified volunteers from the faculty and staff to teach sections of a course designed specifically for first year students called “Foundations for Learning.” This course focuses on the liberal arts curriculum, develops critical thinking skills and explores the variety of campus and academic resources that exist at our university to help students transition into, through and beyond UNCG. Since our office had lost the full-time position devoted to student relations due to the budget cuts, I thought this would be one way to help foster stronger student relations and, at the same time, help UNCG.

I spent spare time in the summer preparing — developing the syllabus and class calendar, scheduling campus field trips and designing group activities and projects. Each instructor was asked to infuse a special theme into the course content, so I chose the history and traditions of UNCG. As the semester moved swiftly along, more and more of my evenings and weekends were devoted to FFL preparation. Had I, once again, taken on too much?

The answer — I had taken on one of the best things I've done in years. For all the time and energy I devoted to 18 UNCG students over the course of a semester, I received so much more in return. I watched these 18 students transform from slightly stunned and overwhelmed freshmen into budding learners with a bit more confidence and direction. I learned just how important it is to truly care about the people who come here — not just to learn — but to make a difference in our world.

Together we experienced the collaboration and inclusiveness that is UNCG. Together we fueled each other's curiosity and passion. What ultimately matters to those students and me — beyond what was taught in FFL 100-33 — is how the lessons we learned this past semester are carried forward.

I am blessed to serve The University of North Carolina at Greensboro — its alumni, students and community. I serve with the best group of people anyone could ask for: Donegan Root '87, Linda Dunston-Stacey '85, Mary Swantek, Melissa Potter, Julie Landen and Scott Jones. From all of us in the Office of Alumni Relations — we wish for you a special season of peace and reflection. We hope for a year filled with promise and giving.

Linda Carter
Executive Director of the UNCG Alumni Association
Director of Alumni Relations








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