Sean Tate is a Duke University 2019 graduate, former Duke Men’s Swimming & Diving member, and ACE in South Africa 2017 alumnus. Now five years later, he works full time for the ACE program. Tate details how ACE sparked his interest in international service, leading him to complete a post-graduate internship with ACE community partner GVI, and ultimately becoming ACE’s first full-time program coordinator. Tate also shares some of his favorite ACE memories and lasting friendships made from the program.
What are you doing now? How did ACE influence your career?
I am currently working as the first full-time program coordinator for the ACE program at Duke. It’s probably clear that my ACE experience influenced my career path. Going into college, I didn’t have a clear idea of what my professional or post-graduation plans would be. As a sophomore, ACE sparked an interest in international engagement; I was immersed in powerful intercultural learning experiences that I held close with me after my program ended and through the rest of my college experience. By the time I was a senior, I remember reflecting back on my experiences with ACE and the impact they made on me and decided to start building a career in international civic engagement.
After I graduated, I interned abroad for Global Vision International (GVI) in Puerto Morelos, Mexico where I worked with children in the Puerto Morelos area and taught lessons on topics including healthy living behaviors, environmental consciousness, English, physical education, and cultural awareness.
“I applied, interviewed, was offered the position, and accepted. I was so excited to be able to return to and support the program that had given me so many experiences that I still think about today.”
– Sean Tate, ACE in South Africa 2017
When my internship was over, I received an email from ACE program director, Emily Durham, that was sent to a few ACE alums about a new position opening up in the ACE office: the program coordinator position. I applied, interviewed, was offered the position, and accepted. I was so excited to be able to return to and support the program that had given me so many experiences that I still think about today. I’ve been working with ACE for the past year and a half and I love getting student-athletes from Duke and Stanford involved in the program. Through my work with ACE, I hope I can help student-athletes have the amazing ACE experience I did.
What was the most meaningful part of your ACE experience?
On my ACE program, a Duke wrestler named Araad was the only other male student-athlete so we shared a room together. We didn’t know each other before the program. We and a few other of our teammates met in the Newark airport for the first time and after a few delays and mishaps, ended up spending almost 36 hours together traveling to South Africa. In that time and once our program started we got to know each other well and formed a great friendship. Araad and I ended up being roommates our senior year and have remained close since. Now we both live in the Durham area and hang out often!
Share a lesson you learned from your ACE experience that still holds true today:
The number one thing my ACE experience gave me was perspective. I reflect back on a blog post I wrote after my time in South Africa and what I wrote still holds true: “I believe this to perspective to be one of the most important qualities to have in order to be a good traveler, coworker, teammate, partner, and basically any other role you can think of. Perspective gifts cohesiveness, empathy, and understanding. Not only gaining perspective, but changing perspective as well.” There isn’t one specific moment I can pinpoint about my change in perspective, I reflect on the time as a whole. I reflect on my interactions with the children, our amazing cultural immersion experiences and history lessons, and of course the connections I made with my Duke and Stanford ACE teammates.
“Perspective gifts cohesiveness, empathy, and understanding. Not only gaining perspective, but changing perspective as well.”
– Sean Tate, ACE in South Africa 2017
Share a fun ACE memory:
When one of my ACE teammates put toothpaste on my pillow as a prank and I didn’t notice until we were on the bus to our project site in the morning.
Describe your ACE experience in as few words as possible:
Purposeful, educational, and impactful
What’s one thing you want people to know about ACE?
ACE isn’t just a three-week experience, the memories and lessons you learn last a lifetime
What’s your hope for the future of ACE? What advice do you have for future ACE participants?
I hope the ACE program continues to help develop student-athlete’s minds and broaden their horizons. To future ACE participants: you won’t regret it!