BY CHRIS TAYLOR, First-Year Communications Intern
Just over a year ago, Nicole Hampsten was leading hikes through the wilderness of Alaska. Today, with support from the Duke-Durham Campaign, she works to support Duke students on their own journeys of community engagement.
Hampsten’s path to becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA in Duke’s Office of Community Affairs was far from linear. She has experience in the field of special-needs education and has studied recreation, tourism and management. While working with the Alaska Conservation Foundation, Hampsten decided she wanted to pursue her passion for education, with a focus on service. That’s how she ended up in Durham.
“Coming from Los Angeles, where you may not even know your neighbor, I was extremely impressed with Duke students and their dedication to improving this community,” she said. “Even though most students come from hundreds or thousands of miles away, they are all so willing to give back and help the community in any way they can.”
In Hampsten’s role as an AmeriCorps VISTA, she works with the North Carolina Campus Compact and focuses on issues of hunger and food security. In her capacity as Duke’s Student Outreach Coordinator, Hampsten works to recruit volunteers for 28 student service groups, organize events, and facilitate student service in a variety of ways.
“I thought that recruitment would be hard,” she said. “But there is so much support from the entire community. I have been encouraged by the number of Duke students who contact me about volunteer work.”
Hampsten’s AmeriCorps position is set to end in July. She said she looks forward to her final few months in this capacity and to finding new ways to work with the Durham community.
“It is a great program,” Hampsten said. “I have been able to do a little bit of everything. I would be thrilled to stay in Durham and continue to work with the Duke-Durham community.”