My Davidson | A Student Blog Leading Through the Unexpected: How A Work Study Position Prepared Two Students for Summer Experiences

two young people holding recycling bins while sorting through piles of trash

Kate Cross ’24 and Henry Wilkerson ’23 share how they leveraged a 10-hour-per-week work study position with the Sustainability Office to gain professional experiences during the summer months. 

About the Authors

Kate Cross ’24 (she/her/hers) is an Art History major from Durham, North Carolina.

“My conviction in the importance of sustainability informs many things in my life, like my views on creative practice and appreciation for all of the small, yet vital, moments.”

Henry Wilkerson ’23 (he/him/his) is a History major from Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Sustainability encompasses all facets of life because our environmental problems are symptoms of broader inequitable systems. I try to remember that intersectionality and consistently address it in the various events we do.”

Kate Cross ’24: “Things Never Go Exactly As Planned”

This summer, I am working at the North Carolina Governor’s School East campus as a Teaching Assistant/Counselor (TA/C) for Visual Art, with additional duties in the campus office. For those unfamiliar with Governor’s School, a TA/C is essentially a combination of a resident advisor and a camp counselor. My job on Davidson’s campus as the co-lead of our Sustainability Office events planning team has been invaluable in preparing me for this experience.

With events, it’s a given that things never go exactly as planned. In my interview for the TA/C position, I was asked to discuss how I deal with the unexpected, a vital part of working with kids. Even though there are many things the two jobs differ on, my experience in the Sustainability Office provided me with specific examples of moments when I had to expect the unexpected and use flexible thinking. Co-leading with Henry has also taught me the importance of delegation in leadership and how we should all lean on each others’ strengths. I like to lead by getting input from my entire team and building a strong community — skills I learned in the Sustainability Office that I hope make me a better TA/C as well.

I carry the intentionality of sustainable practices with me always. I hope they help me choose what I want to bring into my life and to carefully react in charged situations this summer, in the same way I think about being intentional with our care of Earth.

Henry Wilkerson ’23: “Grapple With the Little Questions”

I am working at the International Civil Rights Museum this summer, where we are adding a new exhibit on Bennett College’s contributions to the sit-ins. On February 1st, 1961, Four black NC A&T students sat down at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter to protest Jim Crow segregation, and put pressure on local business to integrate, their protest grew from 4 to hundreds of students within days and sparked thousands just like it across the south over the spring of 1960. With event planning, our team has to think through the tiniest details to ensure everything runs on time, and our event is engaging to our specific audience. When asked about what I could bring to the museum, I pointed to our Environmental Justice Conference, our countless EDU events, and our farmers market stands as specific examples of how the Office makes me grapple with all the little questions that help us provide engaging material.

Whether moderating a zoom panel on careers in sustainability employment, or explaining campus sustainability initiatives to students, professors, and their families, we wear many hats as we shift from each event. The ever-changing nature of our events has made me comfortable writing or giving talks on different information for a wide range of audiences, which then gives me a clearer idea of how to present information in a more accessible way.

Co-leading with Kate and working on a team for the past three years has shown me the necessity of open communication and camaraderie in a work environment. I love working in the office because we focus on building relationships–that makes our conversations more honest and productive, and makes our work feel less like work. That experience has encouraged me to build that same camaraderie with my co-workers, which is helping us to build an exhibit we can be proud of.


  • July 15, 2022