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Friday, September 18, 2009

VISTA member working on Leadership & Service at UNCP

As a student Chika Kusakawa said becoming involved on campus was an important piece of a successful college career.

Chika KusakawaAs a member of AmeriCorps VISTA and working at UNC Pembroke’s Center for Leadership and Service, she will try to get other students engaged in campus activities.

“I got very involved on campus,” Kusakawa said. “I didn’t know there were so many opportunities in college to become involved.”

In fact, the 2009 Elon University graduate became involved literally from her first day and worked four years in the school’s orientation program, ultimately becoming the head training coordinator for 100 orientation leaders.

“The experience opened my eyes to a career in higher education,” Kusakawa said. “My career plan is to gain some experience and then get a master’s degree in higher education.”

Kusakawa is UNCP’s fourth AmeriCorps VISTA worker. The federal community development program is a year-long volunteer position that, for UNCP and 30 other colleges and universities in the state, is coordinated by the North Carolina Campus Compact.

On campus for just a month, Kusakawa is enjoying UNCP.

“I like Pembroke because of its size,” she said. “With 5-6,000 students, it’s easy to meet people across campus.

“My job exciting, and everyone is friendly,” Kusakawa said. “There is something different every day; so it’s a learning experience.”

Chika Kusakawa (right) with students

Chika Kusakawa (right) with students

Black Line

Kusakawa is working on a number of projects beginning with the Involvement Fair on September 2. She will direct the Make a Difference Day and the Martin Luther King Jr. Challenge, two national days of service. She is also coordinating NC ACTS, a program that offers $1,000 scholarships to students who perform 300 hours of community service.

A Princeton, N.J., native, Kasakawa was a biology major at Elon and continues to be interested in outdoor activities and environmental science. In college, she studied in England, interned at the Ocean Mammal Institute in Hawaii and volunteered after Hurricane Katrina.

Getting other students to share her enthusiasm for engagement is her role at UNCP.

“I believe involvement is so important, and it comes in so many forms,” Kusakawa said. “College students have a lot of potential for leadership, and they need opportunities.”

To contact Kusakawa or the Center for Leadership and Service, please call 910.521.6163 or email cls@uncp.edu.

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