A Summer of Service

Nyjah King stands in a field in a hi-vis vestEvery summer, the Carolina Center for Public Service partners with nonprofit and government organizations to provide internship opportunities for Carolina undergraduates who want to serve the state.

The SECU Public Fellows Intern Program, started at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2020, pairs students with local leadership in paid internships to gain professional experience while benefiting rural North Carolina communities.

This summer, Nyjah King ’24 partnered with Kinston Teens, a youth-led nonprofit in Kinston, North Carolina.

King, who grew up less than 30 minutes from Kinston, was excited to work in a community similar to her own and partner with alumnus Chris Suggs ’21, who founded Kinston Teens as a high school student in 2014 and returned to his hometown to make a difference after graduating from Carolina.

“This is our eighth year, and we’ve really grown into an organization that is at the forefront of responding to a lot of timely issues,” Suggs said. “From the COVID-19 pandemic to hurricanes or flooding, we’re right there organizing volunteers, helping folks evacuate or assisting people with groceries and household goods.”

King helped lead engagement efforts to build Kinston Teens’ membership and volunteer base and organize community events.

“This has been a really great experience,” King said. “I think it’s taught me a lot of openness and humility, and I’ve learned how to get to know other people and how best to help the community. I’ve been able to work directly with the community and see the changes we’re making, like the street clean-ups. One person can only do so much, but when the whole community gathers together and works on several blocks, you can see how it makes such a difference.”

Read the full Q&A with Nyjah King and Chris Suggs…

Photo courtesy of Kingston Teens

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