This year marks five years of ACE programming. We’re celebrating by looking back at our first year programs, reflecting with our first year participants on what ACE has meant to them, and learning what our ACE alums are up to now.
This week we interviewed Class of 2018 Duke graduate, Women’s Swimming and Diving team member and ACE in South Africa ’16 alum Lizzie Devitt. She shares how ACE first reinvigorated her love for sport, then propelled her towards a career in higher education advocacy.
What are you doing now? How did ACE influence your academic or career path?
ACE absolutely helped me navigate my academic and career path. The program sparked my appreciation for education and encouraged me to pursue a job in higher education. When I went on my ACE trip, I felt so inspired by the elementary school students I taught and their excitement for learning. At the same time, I also felt appreciative of my university for giving me the opportunity to have such an impactful experience that I couldn’t receive anywhere else.
“The program sparked my appreciation for education and encouraged me to pursue a job in higher education.”
I was a Public Policy major at Duke and have been working for Duke University Government Relations at the Duke in DC office for the past year. Prior to working for Duke, I worked as a management consultant. In my current role, I’m able to promote the university in Washington, DC and help advocate for the higher education community and Duke’s federal policy interests.
How did ACE impact you as a student-athlete?
As a sophomore, I started to lose my love for swimming after competing for so many years. ACE helped me rediscover that love. The athletic camp we helped organize for students at the ACJ school reminded me of how it felt to be a kid and simply love playing sports because they were fun.
I was also surrounded by 9 other student-athletes who played different sports and we all shared our experiences, struggles, hopes and plans for when college athletics was over. It was an awesome experience to be able to get perspectives from people who had similar experiences to me but were also in different places with different challenges and views on their sport.
“As a sophomore, I started to lose my love for swimming after competing for so many years. ACE helped me rediscover that love.”
Share a specific lesson you learned from your ACE experience that still holds true today.
Something you hear a lot before, during and after ACE is the word ‘flexibility’. I was on the first trip during the first year of ACE, so we had to be ready to adapt regularly to unknowns during our three weeks. ACE taught me how to push through uncertainty, face a situation head-on, and adapt my plans as I continue to learn. Life will always be full of uncertainty and plans are always changing, so this skill really can’t be underestimated.
Describe your ACE experience in as few words as possible.
ACE is a special opportunity for personal and professional growth. ACE was a challenge, a learning experience and an extremely fun opportunity!
What’s one thing you want people to know about ACE?
ACE to me doesn’t have a single downside. It is a three-week period of time to travel, to make friends, to make a difference in another person’s life, to learn about the history of different cultures, to learn to work with others better and to learn about yourself.
“Something you hear a lot before, during and after ACE is the word ‘flexibility’. I was on the first trip during the first year of ACE, so we had to be ready to adapt regularly to unknowns during our three weeks.”
What’s your hope for the ACE program and advice for future participants as we look ahead to the next five years?
I hope that student athletes continue participating in these trips and that the program continues grow. ACE provides a special and unique experience for student-athletes that student-athletes would not be able to receive any other way. I continue to recognize how the program has impacted my life since returning from my ACE experience nearly 5 years ago. For me, it’s exciting to think about the multitudes of student-athletes after me that will feel the same looking back.