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Carson Duffy ′12

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Major: Urban Studies
Fun Fact: This summer Carson was deported from Argentina.

What got you involved in education?
I thought at one point I wanted to be a teacher, but now I am finding I can make a larger impact on education via other professions. When I was applying to college it was really difficult, but I had a lot of support. I had my parents behind me, my school’s guidance counselor, and a counselor outside of school that was helping me apply. It struck me that there were so many people who didn’t have those resources. My friend and I had an idea to start a program at our high school to match alums’ parents with students to help guide them. Later I started a similar program at Rhodes with Central High School, using Rhodes students instead of parents.

How long has this program been running?
It started in February 2009. Working with the counselors at Central, we picked a group of students who weren’t at the bottom but also weren’t at the top—who need a little extra information on how to do something with their potential. There are about 30-50 students involved.

We don’t focus on just getting them into college, because for some of them that’s not an option or what they want to do. This summer we’re going to have a job fair. That’s one goal I had—to have a group of employers who are hiring for the summer, including Rhodes, meet these students. Then letting these kids have first pick with the idea that they’ve had job training.

What’s the goal of your work?
My vision is to creatively transform public education so that it can be used as a means of infusing hope and success in students. By giving them the power to use their knowledge and abilities to expand and improve their own lives, students will have the tools to inspire their families and communities to search for their own passions and act. I want to make the dreams of all students—specifically underserved students—a reality.

Do you work only outside of Rhodes? Or are you involved on campus as well?
On campus I’m one of the co-moderators of the Kinney Program. Kinney is a group of students who are active in service, and it helps match students with volunteer organizations. We’d really like to see the Kinney Program become an organization that students can sit down with and figure out what service would be meaningful to them.

I think sometimes Rhodes students go out and volunteer but don’t necessarily know why, or maybe they had a bad service experience, which turns them off to volunteering completely. If we could really help students figure out why they want to volunteer and what kind of people they’re interested in helping, I think it could improve how we think about service here.

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Anne Davison December 4, 2010

What an inspiring effort.  Thanks so much for the story.