The ACE Program definitely provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for student -athletes. It gives us the chance to immerse ourselves in a different culture, inspire and engage the youth of that community both in academics and athletics, and gain experience in international civic engagement all at the same time. As a group, I think we are all very passionate about both athletics and academics, so being able to share that passion with kids in a different community is a very humbling experience.
As part of the ACE in Vietnam program, participants will teach academics, sports and life skills to students at under-resourced middle schools in the Mekong Delta with the aim of encouraging them to prepare for higher education.
Mackenzie’s past experiences with service include membership in the Society of Women Engineers, in which she advises underclassmen in the Pratt School of Engineering; and membership in Alpha Phi Fraternity, through which she does philanthropic work in support of women’s heart health. With her team, she participates in “Swimming with the Blue Devils” and Team Impact (a charity that matches children with life-threatening illness with sports mentors), and volunteers in soup kitchens throughout the Durham area.
Mackenzie Willborn is a junior on the Duke Swimming and Diving Team and is a Biomedical Engineering major from Dallas, Texas. She is interested in female advocacy and involvement in the fields of math and science. The ACE Program was Mackenzie’s first opportunity to immerse herself in a service learning opportunity abroad and learn first-hand about an entirely different culture. She learned a lot from her experiences in Vietnam, working as a physics teacher, building lasting relationships with college students from across the globe, and gaining skills in leadership and teamwork. She hopes to carry these lessons forward to other student athletes and into her future adventures.
Want to hear more about Mackenzie’s ACE experience? Contact Mackenzie.
Dear Future #ACEathletes,
- Best advice for learning about ACE: Keep in mind what dates will work best for you. Also, each program offers something a little different, so definitely read up on each and keep in mind what you want to accomplish in your three weeks abroad!
- Best advice for applying for ACE: Have an ACE Ambassador check out your application before submitting if you feel like you want some reassurance! Really try to express your genuine self –it will help you ultimately end up in the best program for you.
- Best advice for getting started at your program: Be open with your ACE Team! Being in such a new place, it is so nice to have the familiar faces of your fellow student athletes by your side.
- Tips for getting to know your community: Being respectful and open-minded is the best way to build relationships with your host community. Be sure to be open to help and advice from new people such as your new ACE Team and Directors.
- Tips for training: The fact that this program is made up of student athletes made staying in shape super easy!In Vietnam, we would get up and do a short work out before we started the day-it was nice to have training buddies and get yourself up and ready to be active and engaged throughout the week!