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Sarah Nelson

ACE in South Africa: 2019
Duke University
Volleyball (Women's)
Los Gatos, CA
Minor(s) / Certificate(s)
Sarah’s Blog Posts from ACE in South Africa: 2019
Profile View Sarah’s Student-Athlete profile on

“ACE will allow me to experience a new culture firsthand and to make a positive impact kids’ lives. I will create many lasting friendships and learn leadership skills in an incredibly unique way. I am so grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Sarah Nelson’s past experience with service includes participating in the National Charity League, Habitat for Humanity, and Shining Stars where she served kids with mental disorders in high school. At Duke, she works with the Duke Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald house, TROSA, and OCEANS, and also helped in the Duke Women and Girls in Sports Day. She is also an ACTION mentor for freshmen student-athletes, participates in LEAD, and is part of Athletes in Action, a Christian student organization on campus.

Dear Future #ACEathletes,

  • Best advice for learning about ACE: Find resources and student-athletes that have gone in the past, and be comfortable talking to them about their experiences! I asked past ACE members who went to South Africa and found a way to talk with them. I knew that was the only date that worked for me, but I recommend asking what the daily schedule was for each location.
  • Best advice for getting started at your program: Be as comfortable as possible talking with one another and opening up. Everyone who is there is there for a good reason and wants to be a positive influence and helper. Stay up, make silly memories, and ask questions about each other to get to know one another. We also played lots of card games and mafia.
  • Tips for getting to know your community: Give all your energy to the kids. The more you put into it, the more you with truly get out of it. The kids are so fun and learn as much from you as you do from them. I live to be very selfless and want to share as much as possible, because that is where I feel fulfilled. I also am very conscious of building community, a loving one just like the Zola township.
  • Tips for training: I made sure I went to the gym every day. We all started to do workout circuits together to keep it fun, new, and team based. This made working out fun and we weren’t each working out on our own routine everyday.
  • Tips for bringing ACE back to your team: I came back and shared a bunch of pictures and stories with my team immediately because they were all already in Durham when I got back. I always want to put my team and my teammates first and continue to remind myself that they each have a story behind their actions, and you do not always see the full picture. I continue to love on them and share my experiences so we continue to build a strong culture. This year, I am pushing for our team to do much more community engagement.
  • Reasons for staying involved in ACE: I LOVED my trip to South Africa, working in the Zola township. It has meant a lot in the people I met there and continue to keep in touch with both at Duke and at Stanford. I also continue to remember fun experiences and memories from the trip and remind myself there is so much more in this world, and I can make a tangible change if I set my mind to it.