Elizabeth Ruf is a new college graduate from UNC-Asheville who is working as a Campaign Associate for United Way of the Greater Triangle. She shares her thoughts on her experience to date.
I grew up in the triangle: attended elementary, middle, and high school right here in Raleigh. At the University of North Carolina at Asheville (Go Bulldogs!) I earned a degree in political science, as well as one in interdisciplinary studies (focusing on ethics). Now I’m willing to bet most people think those two things do not go together, at least not in practice, but I do. I believe that by using a lens of ethics to look at political science and the institutions surrounding it, I can help make a difference and maybe even change the world for the better. Being a recent graduate I often get the probing, “what do you want to do with the rest of your life” question, and well, my answer to that is quite complex. My simplistic, go-to response is composed of two words: help people. I’m not sure how that will play out in the future: if I’ll get into politics; delve into policy-making; adventure into non-profits; or become a teacher and inspire future generations; but I do know that I will make a difference.
This determination to bring about change is exactly what drew me to this organization, and why I am doing Campaign Associate work here with the United Way of the Greater Triangle. I want to help people. I want to make a difference. I want to know that my work is directly affecting someone, somewhere. My particular role as a CA (Campaign Associate) is interesting because while most of my colleagues are working with big name corporations in the triangle area (John Deere, The News & Observer, First Citizens Bank, just to name a few) I get to help our partner agencies in Wake County run their employee campaigns. Seeing firsthand what these amazing non-profits are doing for the greater Triangle area is truly inspiring. I have left countless agencies feeling absolutely overcome by the amount of love and dedication these people have not only for the community, but for those they are helping. There have been numerous times while driving away from partner agencies I found myself in tears, not from sadness, but from pure joy of knowing that people who would otherwise be left out to dry (so to speak) are getting life changing and often necessary help to overcome the obstacles they face.
Although I do not have my hands directly in the action, I still have an impact on this community which is so near and dear to my heart. Here at United Way of the Greater Triangle, we just completed our own employee giving campaign, and I chose to give. I might as well put my money where my mouth is, right? Right. And I did. Knowing my donation is going not only to our partner agencies, but to specific programs directly affecting those in our community, my community, my home, lets me know I have made a difference and I will accomplish at least a small portion of my complex life goal.
I will carry this experience with me, and use it as my catalyst for making a difference and even changing the world one day. After all, I think Margaret Mead had it right when she said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”