My Davidson | A Student Blog First-Gen Students Get a Healthy Dose of Fun and College Know-How

a group of young people in a classroom working at tables together

Jean-Paul ’24 spent the summer with GenOne, non-profit organization that works to get talented first-generation students to and through college.

Nasir Jean-Paul ’24 shares his experience as a Summer Intern with Davidson’s Center for Civic Engagement in Summer 2022.

About the Author

Nasir Jean-Paul ’24 (he/him/his) is a sociology major from Miami, Florida.

“My name is Nas, and I’m a Haitian-American. I love to travel, watch anime, and participate in a variety of physical activities such as walking, yoga, calisthenics, and hand-balancing.”

Last summer, I interned with GenOne, a non-profit organization that works to get talented first-generation students to and through college. As a summer intern at GenOne, my supervisor, Ian, tasked me with helping run two summer programs: the Summer Bridge Program (SBP) for rising first-years and the Summer Leadership Academy (SLA) for rising high-school freshmen. If it hadn’t been for my amazing co-worker, Lontina, I don’t know how these programs would have been so successful. We worked on everything together: creating flyers, curricula, icebreakers, and fun and engaging activities. We were also tasked with ordering snacks, calling parents, handling transportation, and…I think you get the point. It was a lot of work for only two people, but we got it done, and the outcome exceeded our expectations.

“Sharing Perspectives”

The Summer Bridge Program had about eight students, a higher turnout from previous years. We talked about everything from identity and belonging to financial knowledge and career opportunities. The students were engaged in the lessons and did not hold back in the icebreakers and activities. They almost broke my umbrella during a scavenger hunt we held, and I had them stumped during a college edition riddle hangman. They told me they appreciated having the perspective of a current college student, and their responses from our post-program survey showed that most of the students felt more prepared going into college than they did before the program.

“Exhausting But Fun”

Summer 2022 was the first time GenOne hosted the Summer Leadership Academy, and let me tell you it was exhausting! We built everything from the ground up, but that wasn’t the hardest part. While SBP was only from 12–4 p.m., SLA was all day, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., not including drop-off and pick-up. So during that week, my days were stretched to earlier mornings and later evenings. Apart from being mentally, emotionally and physically drained, I had fun. The kids loved me, and I loved those kids. Not only were they fun to be around, they were extremely bright. They were always engaged in the lessons, participating and asking questions. Most of all, they respected Lontina and me.

a group of students playing a human knot game outside

Jean-Paul and his coworker aimed to make every day with the Summer Leadership Academy fun.

Like the SBP students, they were competitive in the icebreakers and activities. I played volleyball with them every day, and we would have rap battles, dance together and make Tik Toks. On the last day of the program, we had a water balloon fight. I tried to run, dodge and weave, but they got me good!

“Would Do It All Again”

The summer was draining because I always wanted to keep the students engaged and to have as much fun as possible. While it was a learning environment, it was also their summer. Lontina and I aimed to make each day so much fun, the students had to come back the next day for more–and they did. Both programs of students were so much fun to work with, and if I could do it all again, I would. Working with GenOne was hard, as with any non-profit. However, if you want an internship where you can explore your creativity, develop time-management skills and discipline, and work with the best students ever, GenOne might be the place for you.

Center for Civic Engagement Summer Positions

Through these experiences and a shared curriculum, CCE summer interns explore complex social issues, build community capacity and develop skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and communication. All opportunities are in the Greater Charlotte and Lake Norman Region and provide students with a stipend and housing. Summer Positions are made possible through the William F. and Betty G. Mulliss Foundation, the Davidson Class of ’68 and the Davidson Class of ‘89.

Learn more about CCE Summer Positions

Apply for CCE Summer Positions in WildcatSync (Davidson login required)


  • January 23, 2023