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 Rowing team member and ACE in India ’16 alum, Meagan Lew. She shares the lasting value of experiential-based learning opportunities like ACE and team sports.
What are you doing now? How did ACE influence your academic or career path?
I am a clinical research coordinator at Duke, working with patients at the Adult Bone Marrow Transplant clinic. A lot of our studies focus on improving aspects of their health such as physical function, nutrition, and cognitive function that can decline as they go through the transplant process. Along with managing studies with transplant patients, our research team has started up several COVID-19 research studies as well.
“Just as sports taught me lessons you can’t learn in a classroom, ACE gave me experiences I wouldn’t have had anywhere else in my college experience.”
ACE really solidified my interest in global health. Prior to ACE I had only taken introductory global health classes, but being in India I saw how differences in socioeconomic factors can impact one’s quality of life. These differences exist everywhere in the world, but this was the first time I saw such a wide wealth gap between people living in such close proximity to each other. In every global health class I took after that summer, I was able to apply what I was learning to my experience in India.
What was the most meaningful part of your ACE experience?
India was the farthest country I had ever traveled to. Leading up to ACE, I was equally excited and nervous because I had always wanted to go to India, but I knew I would be stepping out of my comfort zone in multiple ways. I’ve always found comfort in having a plan and knowing what to expect, but the most meaningful part of the experience was embracing being uncomfortable by being in a brand new place and immersed in a culture different than my own. I feel more confident approaching things I haven’t experienced before both personally and professionally because ACE showed me how much more you can grow by being uncomfortable.
Share a specific lesson you learned from your ACE experience that still holds true today
ACE taught me to meet people where they’re at when you want to help and to achieve that by being open and curious. The best way to learn from other people who may be different from you is to not expect them to conform to your ways.
“…sometimes the best way to be helpful is to observe and let people tell you what they need from you instead of assuming you know what they need.”
It’s definitely easier said than done. The first week at school I was expecting there to be more structure and planned our lessons with a certain expectation in mind. I quickly learned that the best thing to do was not have a super detailed plan and to allow myself to go with the flow.
I ended up learning way more from the kids and the teachers by integrating myself into their school structure than I would have learned by trying to stick to my original lesson plans. I learned from ACE that sometimes the best way to be helpful is to observe and let people tell you what they need from you instead of assuming you know what they need.
Describe your ACE experience in as few words as possible.
ACE will force you out of your comfort zone and you will be forever grateful for it.
What’s one thing you want people to know about ACE?
Embrace every opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture. 3 weeks will go by faster than you know it.
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 ACE continues to give student-athletes an immersive abroad experience they often miss out on because of sports. My advice would be to definitely take advantage of this unique and special program. Just as sports taught me lessons you can’t learn in a classroom, ACE gave me experiences I wouldn’t have had anywhere else in my college experience.