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CHASS Student of the Month – April 2009

Amber Smith

Photo of Amber Smith

  • Home Town: Raleigh
  • Class: Senior
  • Major(s):
    • Interdisciplinary Studies: Social Change Leadership
    • Minors: Spanish; Non-profit Studies
  • Sample Courses:
    • Public Leadership
    • Social Change
    • Issues in Global Politics
  • Activities:
    • Founder, President and CEO of ME3, 2005-present (
    • Volunteer Coordinator, Seven Star Events, AASHE (Assn for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Ed), Fall 2008
    • Clinical Data Scientist, GlaxoSmithKline, 2007-08
    • Clinical Data Manager, Quintiles, 2004-06
    • Organizer, Cross-Country Service Venture (to promote volunteerism), 2004
    • Co-Founder and Vice-President, Cary Crossroads Kiwanis Club, 2002-04
    • Coalition Coordinator, Wake Housing and Homeless Coalition, 2003-04
  • Honors:
    • Presidential Service Gold Level Award (for 500+ hours of annual volunteer service): 2005-2008
    • Summer 2006 Women of Wake Award, given by the Wake Commission for Women
  • Postgraduate Plans: Graduate school
  • Career Goals: Non-profit management; create social change through non-profit organizations.

Why did you select CHASS?

I was originally an English major because I love to write. But after two years, I felt I wasn’t going in the right direction, so I took some time off from college. It was during that time that I became involved with non-profit organizations and volunteerism, and found my true passion. When I returned to NC State in 2008, I created an Interdisciplinary Major in Social Change Leadership – it ties together courses in Sociology, Communication and Political Science.

How have you gotten involved with your major outside the classroom?

In 2005, I founded and developed a tax-exempt nonprofit, ME3 (Motivate, Educate, Empower, Engage) to promote volunteerism and community and civic engagement in Wake County, NC. I currently serve as President/CEO and Coordinator of ME3’s signature program, Communities in Action, which works to dispatch more than 225 local volunteers, including NCSU students, to more than 40 Wake County non-profits. I am involved in community presentations on volunteerism, fundraising, grantwriting, and project and event coordination. I founded a student chapter of ME3 here at NCSU in November 2008, and I am working with students in COM 466 (Nonprofit Leadership & Development) this semester to assess our students’ awareness of and involvement in volunteerism.

What do you enjoy most about CHASS?

I enjoy all the people I have come into contact with. Some are helpful as professional contacts – they have given me advice about projects, and I know I will keep in touch with them after I graduate. It is more than that, though; I feel I’ve made genuine friendships that will stick with me – professors like Mindy Sopher, Richard Clerkin and Michael Vasu come to mind. I also enjoy my classes very much. They are relevant to what I wish to accomplish in promoting volunteerism, and offer me different angles on social and political change. I feel very wise, as though I have been given many tools to help me understand and succeed in the nonprofit field.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

I would absolutely tell them not to be afraid to get to know their instructors. In high school, sometimes that is viewed as nerdy, but in college, it becomes very meaningful because you meet people who share your interests and who can help guide you. I would also urge new students to get involved on campus – there are so many activities out there that offer a chance to learn and to meet new people.

Nominate a student for CHASS Student of the Month.