by Nathan Gower, staff writer
Senior Madeline Wadley was recently awarded the Community Impact Student Award by North Carolina Campus Compact, a coalition of service programs at 41 North Carolina colleges.
According to NC Campus Compact Program Director Jonathan Romm, the award celebrates and thanks students for their accomplishments in their communities.
Romm noted the exceptional lengths to which a student at Warren Wilson must go in order to receive this recognition.
“All students [at Warren Wilson] are required to do service, so this award is special in a way—it’s awarded to a leader amongst leaders in service,” he said.
Leadership was a major aspect of Wadley’s nomination.
“Madeline stood out primarily for her four-year commitment to the Service Learning Office (SLO), and her taking on increased leadership over the years was significant and notable. If she could dip her toe in it, she did it, and she was really good at it,” Director of Service Learning Brooke Millsaps enthused.
Wadley was modest about her recognition.
“It’s odd for me. It’s not why I do service,” she said.
Millsaps, who supervises Wadley on the Servie Learning Crew, was especially proud of her recognition. She noted how service has become an invaluable aspect of Wadley’s life.
“She found ways to look into issues outside the work crew—it became a part of who she is. She has this ability to communicate her experiences to other people in a way that creates movement [in an issue],” Millsaps said.
To Wadley, service is a natural part of her daily life. She has lead several break trips, issue workshops, weekly trips, and in that time accrued several hundreds of hours of direct service.
“I feel like I come from a position of immense privilege, especially through this education that I’m getting, so I think to make all of this worthwhile, I have to turn it around and give it back to the community to people that don’t have the same privilege and the same access,” Wadley said.
Wadley has known of her privilege for some time, but acknowledged its growth during her experiences studying abroad in South Africa.
“It just magnified the amount of privilege that I have, and that had a lot to do with why I chose a program that was service-learning based,” she recalled.
“It was interesting because service there operates a lot differently than service [in the U.S.] does. Nonprofits aren’t set up to coordinate volunteers like they are here, so we had to basically invent work for ourselves,” Wadley noted.
“It made me think a lot about coming into a community as an outsider and offering a different perspective but also being really respectful of the way they did things. It was a difficult dynamic because I have to figure out something to do to make my time here worthwhile, but I didn’t want to step on any toes,” she added.
Wadley, who devoted substantial amounts of time to service during her tenure at Wilson, stressed how fun service should be.
“Find something that speaks to you and that you care about, and find service from that so that you’re not just going in and doing the work, but you’re learning about something you care about,” Wadley emphasized.
A student can be nominated for the Community Impact Student Award by faculty and staff of a member college of NC Campus Compact, and one student from Warren Wilson College has received the award since 2008.