Pittard Perspectives: How to Make a Difference
Coach Bob Pittard Scholar Erin McIndoe shares her experience as a student athlete, her passion for community service, and her advice for the Class of 2020.
I had a wonderful experience at every Wake County Public School I attended, from Kindergarten through High School graduation. My teachers were amazing, administration was supportive, and I was surrounded by many inspiring classmates who became my best friends. At Green Hope High School, I was challenged both academically and athletically. I was a student athlete, playing on the volleyball team for four years. It was an honor to play for Green Hope and the bond I shared with my teammates as we won three state championships was very special. However, for me, being a student always came first. I had some opportunities to play in college, but at 5’1”, the recruiters were not busting down my door! By my junior year, I had also come to the realization that I had more interests “off the court” than on it. Volleyball was fun, but I did not define myself as a volleyball player.
As a varsity athlete at Green Hope I applied for, and was awarded, the Coach Bob Pittard Scholarship, which is administered by WakeEd Partnership. This not only eased the financial burden on my family, but it allowed me to focus on my studies and really immerse myself in the college experience during my first year at UNC – Chapel Hill. As a freshman, I joined a number of organizations, including Carolina for the Kids, Carolina Women in Business, and my sorority, Phi Mu, where I currently serve as the 2020 Athletic Chair. Some of my favorite moments at school were the afternoons I spent volunteering at the Carolina Campus Community Garden, which provides fresh produce for low-income staff on campus. I had never done any gardening before, but quickly learned how to prepare planting beds, properly pick produce, and my personal favorite, pull weeds. I loved getting to see first-hand the difference we were able to make for the Carolina community.
As you can tell, I have a strong interest in volunteering and in the valuable work done by nonprofit organizations. It began when I was selected to attend the NC Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference following my sophomore year in high school. During my junior year, I started Falcon’s Give Back, an organization that raised money and goods for local and national charities. I jumped into the administrative side of the nonprofit world immediately after graduation, shadowing the WakeEd Partnership team for the summer to learn about nonprofit management, programs, marketing, and fundraising. During this internship, I was introduced to the owner of A Place at the Table, Maggie Kane.
This summer, I will be interning remotely for A Place at the Table, a nonprofit, “pay what you can” restaurant where customers can pay a suggested price, part of the price, or volunteer in the restaurant to receive a free meal. Since 2018, it has created a wonderful sense of community in Downtown Raleigh, even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Pre-Business Administration major, I was looking for a summer internship that would not only give me real-world business experience, but also a first-hand look at the critical work nonprofit organizations are doing to serve our community.
This summer, I am excited to be working alongside the fundraising committee for A Place at the Table, gathering, organizing, and analyzing data related to restaurant donations. I am hoping to gain a greater understanding of nonprofit finances, especially in these challenging and unprecedented times, and greater insight into the unique challenges that nonprofits face every day. I also hope that my work will help A Place at the Table continue their valuable mission.
To the Class of 2020
There is so much I would like to say to the Class of 2020, and I will start by complimenting you on the extraordinary grace you have shown through the COVID-19 pandemic. You were taken out of school, just when the fun part was about to begin, and I am so proud of the way that you have dealt with this unimaginable situation. I hope your post-graduation plans, whatever they may be, are everything you have dreamt of and more.
My advice to you is to work hard and fully commit yourself to whatever you do. Remember that all of the people you meet along the way, the people who help mold and shape you, are an invaluable resource. You never know when the connections you make in a club, with a professor, a mentor, or even a friend will provide you with an opportunity that could change your life, and your community, for the better.
Commitment and connections have fueled my journey from student athlete, to Pittard Scholar, to Wake County graduate, and now, nonprofit intern. I would not be where I am today without the teachers, mentors, and friends I have made throughout my journey. I am grateful to WakeEd Partnership, Coach Bob Pittard, the Wake County Public School System, and UNC for helping me along the way!
What I’ve learned is that there are a multitude of opportunities out there for you to make a difference. Find an area that interests you, jump in, and make connections. You can make valuable contributions to your community while you learn in the process.