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San Franscisco team in a treeAlumni from the Class of 2018 smiling at the Gala


Uplifting stories, big or small, are what Caldwell Fellows love and strive to create. Despite this year’s plot twist, our stories continue to be shaped and shared, and we hope this collection of them brings joy and reflection.

Annual Report 2019 — 2020

First, some stats:

Caldwell Fellows by College at NC State

chart of student major distribution
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
College of Education
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
College of Natural Resources
College of Engineering
College of Sciences
College of Design
College of management orange dot
College of Management
College of Textiles
University College
Now, some stories.
Two students backpacking with a large mountain backdrop
The Wilderness Trip is a long-standing tradition in the Caldwell program. Each year, a group of young Caldwell Fellows venture into the wilderness, led by alumni of the program, for eight to ten days. Many Fellows point to the experience as a pivotal moment of their time in the program.

Two trips were offered this year: One group traveled in May 2019 to Olympic National Park in Washington, and another traveled in December 2019 to Tonto National Forest in Arizona.
Olympic Wilderness team on the beach making dinner

Left photo by Megan Chesser Davis ('07); Middle photo by Thomas Harris ('16); Video by Bhavana Ambil ('21)

video of students dunking their head in a riverOlympic wilderness team smiling in the woods

Olympic National Park, Washington

Story from Morgan Mase ('22)

"In my application to the Caldwell Fellows program, I expressed a desire to “become more comfortable being uncomfortable.” I saw the Wilderness Trip as a way to make progress towards this goal. I could not have anticipated just how uncomfortable I would be. I managed to develop a cold and a low grade fever somewhere around the third day of the trip, and the subsequent days were spent blowing my nose into handkerchiefs that my companions generously lent to me (though, curiously, no one seemed to want them back after I was through with them). The fourth day was the worst of it, and it also happened to be the most physically challenging day of the trip. We hiked up 2600 feet of elevation over the course of 5 miles, through snow fields and freezing cold streams. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I was miserable.

When we reached the top of Anderson Pass, the highest point on our route, we stopped for lunch. Because we had stopped moving I found myself getting chilled and I had to put on some extra layers. Even then I couldn’t stop shivering. I started crying, partly because I was in so much pain and partly because I felt so defeated. Megan hugged me and she told me that she was proud of me: she said that I had every right to complain but I hadn’t been. She told me that I had displayed leadership just in getting myself up the mountain in my state. Later that day, when we finally came back to camp, everyone made me take a nap while they cooked dinner. It was so nice to come out of my tent and have some delicious warm soup waiting for me, which was the absolute most perfect meal for how I was feeling.

I am proud of myself for finishing that hike. If I can hike ten miles, half of them uphill, through snow, while I have a fever, I really think I can do anything."

"I am proud of myself for finishing that hike. If I can hike ten miles, half of them uphill, through snow, while I have a fever, I really think I can do anything."

wilderness team looking at a mapAaron wang cooking food in the dark with a head lamp onArizona wilderness team piled in the van.

Top and middle photo by Robert Seevers ('22); Bottom photo by Madison Phillips ('21)

Tonto National Forest, Arizona

Story from Julia O'Brien ('20)

“I was an assistant trip leader, so I knew the trip plan, what we were supposed to do. And as on almost every wilderness trip, you always have to make some sort of adaptation or some change. And this is where I felt like I was challenged the most...It really tests my adaptability, which has become more and more relevant of a skill since I'm interested in going into R&D and industry… The winter wilderness trip provided a really great avenue for me to continue to build on that.

Why don't I live every single day being as present as I was on that trip and in that environment? My number one strength is futuristic from the Strength Finders, so that's something that's really challenging for me to do. Being present is so important on these trips because you...will not get as much out of it, in my opinion, if you can't be present, if you are counting down the days. I felt like it changed my perspective about being able to be present in my everyday life.”

“I felt like it changed my perspective about being able to be present in my everyday life.”

Sound of Power

This playlist is an auditory representation of this year’s program-wide theme: Power. Students were asked to add a song to this playlist that gives them power, explaining their submission. Here are a few quotes from the song submissions:

Light On — Maggie Rogers 
“... every part of the chorus (from the lyrics to the accompanying music) just makes me feel alive and unstoppable.”

Hero — Frank Ocean, Mick Jones, Paul Simmons, & Diplo
“This song gives me power in Frank Ocean's part where he poetically sings about the expectations and image that is expected of him, as a black man… I'm finding my own truth and identity and for the first time in my life, I'm not caring what it looks like for others.”

Freedom — Shatta Wale
“I believe that for anyone to have power, they must first be free … Every time I listen to it, I am reminded of the freedom I have and I am thankful for the history of people that made my freedom in this country possible."

Eraser — Ed Sheeran
“... finding "comfort in my pain" is just about the most powerful act I can imagine.”

International Experience

Each year Caldwell Fellows leave behind the familiar bricks of NC State to venture abroad for service, research and study. In pursuing international experiences in places far and wide, Fellows gain a global awareness capapable of expanding their personal perspective and sense of self.


Jeremy Lowe ‘21

Research Experience for Undergraduates Program through the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

city scape in uganda

Top Image: The Water Trust Office in Masindi, Uganda
Bottom Image: Skyline in Nairobi, Kenya

I was working on research relating to water, sanitation, and hygiene funded by my department's Research Experience for Undergraduates program in Masindi, Uganda, from May 29th, 2019 until June 25th, 2019 when we needed to leave due to the ongoing Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and from there I moved to Nairobi, Kenya, to support similar ongoing research by Tufts University until August 8th, 2019.

In collaboration with our research in Uganda, we partnered with The Water Trust to survey hundreds of households they serve. The Water Trust is an incredible organization that partners with hundreds of villages and schools throughout rural western Uganda to serve them in meeting their water, sanitation, and hygiene needs. In my time there, talking with the program directors and learning about their models of empowerment through self-help groups, my own ideas and values in service developed immensely. For one, The Water Trust is a local organization with a staff that is almost entirely Ugandan, focused on serving the people in their backyard. This contradicts other models of 'voluntourism' you see throughout the United States where untrained volunteers travel to 'change the world.' I learned the value of being so intertwined in the community you serve, rather than looking elsewhere to 'help.' One of my biggest lessons came in the form of what I consider to be sustained service. Sustained service to me is defined as showing out day in and day out for years, listening intently, and acting in truly meaningful ways. The Water Trust does exactly that. Founded in 2008, they have since served thousands of families throughout the Masindi and Kiryandongo districts, and continue to expand. They are a well-known name in the area, and it is all because their service is sustained with a long-term mindset. And so, working alongside the wonderful staff of The Water Trust has granted me new ideas for how to be of service, and for that, I am grateful.

"One of my biggest lessons came in the form of what I consider to be sustained service. Sustained service to me is defined as showing out day in and day out for years, listening intently, and acting in truly meaningful ways."

In Nairobi, Kenya, colleagues from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (where our field lab was based) and I would often take lunch at the nearby Kenyatta Market. At the same time, children from the local school would also be taking their lunch, walking along the sidewalk across from us. Every time, without fail, the children would giggle, plug their noses and say "Hi, how are you?" in their best nasally American accent, while others chant out mzungu. Swahili for a white person. I was called mzungu a lot, sometimes in the playful way, other times in a heckling, disrespectful way. Though I was living and working there, I was definitely still an outsider. And that's okay. For though I was in the minority, I did not suffer for it. Layers upon layers of systemic oppression did not break down my body; I was full of every privilege I could ask for. I was only called a name. It was an important moment to consider my whiteness, the space I occupy with it, and how to manage it with respect. To this day, back in the US, I still consider the implications of my whiteness and privilege, and how to channel it as an ally.


Jiana Brown ‘21

French Language and Culture in​ ​Paris​ ​&​ ​Lille at L’Université Catholique de Lille

Jiana in front of an old building in FranceJiana in front of a body of water in France

Top Image: Honfleur, France
Bottom Image: Mont-Saint-Michel; Normandy, France

Spain on a map

The summer of 2019 provided me with one of the most positive, challenging and defining moments of my life and it's all tacked down to one thing: Studying Abroad. As someone who never thought of the possibility of making it anywhere outside of the United States and especially not overseas, this opportunity was really life changing and vital to helping me define the person I want to continue developing. Starting from getting my passport to traveling alone, each step, no matter how big or small has forever left its impact on my heart. I’ve become more independent, confident and appreciative for every experience no matter how positive or challenging.

During my trip, which lasted from May 23 until June 26, I was able to travel to 5 different countries all while balancing classes in French and English. I went from exploring the streets of Paris to living like a native in Lille to reaching the top of the Alps. Taking time to enjoy the people, culture, language and land were of most importance to me. I’ve been studying French since elementary school but have always struggled in gaining confidence to speak. Being in France, I didn't want to waste any opportunity I was given. This desire to make the most of my time and experience life really made me break through the limitations I would normally place on myself. I spoke to natives in French, took flights alone to another country, and experienced any and every adventure I could. I normally am overtaken by routine but this time I knew I wanted nothing more than to break the norm and just simply live.

"Every time I reflect on my time abroad I just gain a greater appreciation and gratitude for the people that made my dreams a reality. If not for my family and Caldwell, I would’ve never witnessed first hand the places I’d only ever seen in pictures."

Living in the moment, taking time to enjoy people over work, pushing myself in personal goals of developing better spoken skills in French, and enjoying nature more were all a norm that I aimed to bring back with me. To this day I still can’t believe I was able to see France, Germany, England, Switzerland and Belgium in all of 5 weeks. Every time I reflect on my time abroad I just gain a greater appreciation and gratitude for the people that made my dreams a reality. If not for my family and Caldwell, I would’ve never witnessed first hand the places I’d only ever seen in pictures.


Mike Scrudato ‘21

Study Abroad in Quito, Ecuador

Mike with friends in ecuadorMike with his soccer team

Top Image: Bible Study Group
Bottom Image: Soccer Team

Ecuador on a map

At Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) though my Physics II teacher taught class every day in Spanish, he spoke five languages, with Italian being his first. One day late in the semester, I went to his office hours for help, and he asked me if I would prefer to speak in English. As he explained the physics concepts to me, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself because he sounded like a completely different person, and I had grown so accustomed to hearing him speak in Spanish. In the same way, I sound like a different person when I speak in Spanish, which proves to be a great social challenge. In Spanish, there is part of my personality that just does not always come through. For example, I cannot tell fast and witty jokes, choose not to say things that I cannot express easily, and am less relaxed.

My Spanish grew leaps and bounds during the semester, but I do not return to the US speaking Spanish fluently. Once in Ecuador, I quickly realized that with my Spanish background that goal could not be accomplished in a single semester. However, I do return as [someone] no longer scared to speak in Spanish with those around me. This has already helped me make friends with Spanish-speakers at soccer games, church and parties. This coming semester, I plan to take the Madrid Chamber of Commerce Spanish Business exam to prove to potential employers that I can work in a Spanish speaking context.

I couldn’t help but laugh to myself because he sounded like a completely different person, and I had grown so accustomed to hearing him speak in Spanish. In the same way, I sound like a different person when I speak in Spanish, which proves to be a great social challenge.

All in all, my time in Ecuador has impacted the way that I see my future. I recognize the truth that learning a new language is like adding another dimension to one’s worldview and am inspired to learn one more language so that I may see the world in 3D. In application to my career, Seeing how the relationship of humans with rivers has changed in Ecuador due to the lack of wastewater treatment, I am inspired to focus on water quality within my field of Environmental Engineering. I am also inspired to preserve the work-life balance which I enjoyed while at USFQ.

As my time in Ecuador drew to a close, I was burdened with painful goodbyes as I prepared to leave a place that felt like home. However, I drew comfort realizing that I would much rather have painful goodbyes than easy ones, knowing that hard goodbyes are the “price [that one must] pay for the richness of having experienced more than one culture deeply” (quote from Anthropologist Dr. Miriam Adeney).


Gloria McComas '22

Study Abroad University of Ghana (ISEP) Accra, Ghana

Ghana on a map

I enjoyed the simple everyday things, like walking to the food stalls in the morning to buy some fresh mango or pineapple for breakfast, or getting fufu (a sort of traditional soup and dough you eat with your hands) and fried plantains for lunch. I joined the school’s pop band as a singer, and we were preparing for our reggae concert. The entire music department was also preparing for a huge Easter production, and I ended up in a gospel choir and learning traditional African songs in the local languages like Twi and Fante. I also loved going to the huge city market!

I’ve been listening to a lot of Afrobeat, which is the genre of music that’s played pretty much everywhere in Ghana. I was introduced to it, literally the moment I got off the plane, and I haven’t stopped since! It reminds me of my time there, and to be grateful for the experience even though it got cut short. I’ve also been keeping up with the little things that make me happy, and not to pressure myself to be ultra productive every single day.

I went from living in the US, where I didn’t notice that we always have air conditioning or freshwater available, to living in Ghana, where I was walking 6 miles a day just from going to class or buying my meals from the outdoor markets.

I’ve thought a lot about my ability to adapt and accept throughout this entire experience. Sometimes my 2 months in Ghana feel like a dream. My daily life was so drastically different from how I live in the US, but I kinda just jumped into it and it became my normal.

I went from living in the US, where I didn’t notice that we always have air conditioning or freshwater available, to living in Ghana, where I was walking 6 miles a day just from going to class or buying my meals from the outdoor markets.

I learned that I adapt well to different ways of living, but that it’s a little harder to accept changes I wasn’t prepared for. I learned to just take it one step at a time and to work through my thoughts as they come. Being able to adapt to new environments and quickly evolving situations has been crucial to making the most out of my experience, and I think I’ve come out the other side with a greater appreciation for the relationships I’ve maintained and created along the way. There are things I’ve gained and things I’ve lost, but in the end, it’s the people that make the biggest impact; I’m incredibly grateful to my old and new friends for being in my life, and for making my days, no matter where in the world I am, just that much brighter.


Toinette Powers ‘21

Study Abroad Satander, Spain

Toinette in front of a city scape in spainGroup photo in spainmap of spain

One of the things that stuck out to me in Spain was the value of time. Stereotypically speaking, Americans have a "get ready, get set, go - until you reach the top" mentality.  We are always working on a goal that prepares us to work on another goal. In Spain, most of the people take it one day at a time. I believe the people I associated with in Spain are also ambitious and hard workers, but they value quality time with one another. Work is important, but there is also a time to work but then there is a time to LIVE and go get churros y chocolate with your friends! At first, this type of atmosphere was really hard for me. I originally felt like my days were not as productive because I did not have 5 meetings or 3 speaking engagements to attend. After a little while, I came to the conclusion that finding value in your everyday life is just as important as reaching your goals. Do some work - yes. But at some point everyday, one should sit down and smell the roses while they are still growing and appreciate the process.

This experience gave me the space to ask "Who the heck am I?" … I learned how much I value deep connections with others and how much I value being put in uncomfortable situations that allow me to flourish.

Being abroad has impacted me in numerous ways. I learned so many things about myself that I would not have learned if I had not studied abroad. The program was led by UNC Charlotte. Therefore, out of the 17 students, only two of us were NCSU students. I truly had no direct connection with family or friends. This experience gave me the space to ask "Who the heck am I?" Whether we realize it or not, family, friends, society etc. have impacted us in many unique ways. Going to a country that I have never been to, hardly knowing the language, surrounded by people I barely knew - gave me the opportunity to really understand myself on a deeper level that I would not have gotten the chance to do had I not left. I learned how much I value deep connections with others and how much I value being put in uncomfortable situations that allow me to flourish. I also learned how stubborn I can be at times. A lot of growth has happened and is continuing to happen. Studying abroad in Spain and then traveling around Europe was certainly an experience that I will never forget.

Students picking a garden


As a part of sophomore seminar, a course focused on the philosophy of leadership and the intertwining of leadership and service, Caldwell Fellows join community partners to form service-learning teams. While tackling issues such as healthcare access, food access, and community connectedness, members of the Caldwell program form close, and sometimes long-lasting relationships with servant leaders in the NC State community and beyond - all while learning about how we can be better servant leaders ourselves.
Interfaith food shuttle student volunteers battling with rakes

First: Interfaith Food Shuttle
Middle: Neighbor2Neighbor
Bottom: Open Door Clinic

Neighbor to Neighbor team outside of N2N buildingOpen Door Clinic team

Caldwell service-learning teams are led by upper class Fellows who take on the challenge of furthering their leadership development through the added responsibility of weekly service alongside their team of sophomore Fellows, guiding sophomores' regular reflections, serving as the community liaison, and helping bridge the service-learning experience to the academic content of the sophomore seminar.


"I think a big part of it, the Open Door service, [is that] it just comes from the heart. There are doctors there who were there on their own time volunteering, when they could be doing so much more or gaining stuff for themselves. So I think a big part of [service-learning] is putting others before yourself to see how you can better serve them. That’s a really big thing that Caldwell tries to do to...get you out of your comfort zone and do things that you might not be that familiar with, or that might not be that clear, but you have an end goal that you work towards. And I feel like that's a common theme with Open Door. I know when I was there...the vision wasn't always clear for the semester, wasn't always clear for you guys, but you kept going every week and you kept making little steps and you were able to see the end goal.”

—Bryce Royal '21, Sophomore Seminar Teaching Assistant

Interfaith Food Shuttle

"Being in sophomore seminar, it helped me develop in a lot of ways that I didn't have the opportunity to before. I was not a very social person, I was very introverted, I was sort of stuck to a routine...I saw that work with the sophomores as something that pushed me out of my comfort zone, helped me get used to being a leader. It's easy with you guys, because the group is always funny and supportive, but still it was helpful in learning how to organize and lead a team because I hadn't really done something like that before.”

—Ori Soker '20, Sophomore Seminar Teaching Assistant

“That’s a really big thing that Caldwell Fellows tries to do… get you out of your comfort zone and do things that you might not be that familiar with, or that might not be that clear, but you have an end goal that you work towards.”

We the Pack

"We the Pack aspires to share the diverse experiences of NC State by weaving together the stories that create the fabric of our community.” This is the mission statement of We the Pack. Over the course of the semester, we spent hours upon hours interviewing, photographing, and coordinating with the NC State Craft Center and campus community, including faculty, staff, administrators, students and more! We hope to unite the people of NC State through stories and experiences shared in an artistic form. The end goal of We the Pack is to create an 8-story scrim to hang on NC State's campus, along with a website that holds transcriptions of the stories we collected.

I absolutely loved being a part of We the Pack this year, especially because it combined two of my favorite things, photography, and talking to people I’ve never met! This service-learning project was brand new this year, and our fearless leaders Julia O’Brien and Nicholas Levering did an incredible job at laying the groundwork for the future students in We the Pack. This project challenged each and every one of us to consider and celebrate our similarities as human beings and members of our community at NC State.”

—Ana Sapp '22

Grid of many faces

Top Image: We the Pack team.
Bottom Image: We the Pack grid of portraits taken of folks around NC State.

🥒 🎶 Creativity 🎸💥

Sarah Coull '22

Music has always held a meaningful place in my heart - I first started learning guitar when I was about twelve, and shortly thereafter began writing my own music. It has become a form of journaling for me, and songwriting gives me a place to reflect on a given season of my life. I love how dynamic it can be, rhythm and sound having the capacity to imitate emotions that cannot always be explicitly expressed with words. I think the beauty of creating anything, not just music, is how truly cathartic and expressive the process can be. If the act of creating something has allowed you to grow and reflect, it has served its due purpose- regardless if you choose to share it with the world or not.

Jars of pickles
Emily Trentham '21

Upon arriving back in Raleigh in June 2019 after living abroad, I was craving autonomy, homemade crafting, and pickles. I began to incorporate different fermented/pickled food projects into my life and shared my creations with friends. Before I knew it, I was getting so many requests, I started selling pickles to my peers and coworkers. I started branding my pickles as "risky" because I was always honest with how much I was learning on the spot (and how I wasn't technically allowed to make food sales). Despite this, I was expanding, developing different flavors and taking inspiration from what was in-season at the State Farmers Market.

“I started branding my pickles as "risky" because I was always honest with how much I was learning on the spot (and how I wasn't technically allowed to make food sales).”

I've now sold Risky Pickles at a few pop-up markets and sold over 100 jars at one market in December 2019. I am now working towards creating a legitimate sole proprietorship and renting a kitchen space where I can continue to learn and develop my business.

I started doing a lot of things myself, like making my own products that I normally would buy at the store. And then I started making pickles….[Caldwells have] been the voices that are telling me to do it, and to keep at it. They’ve been the angel on my shoulder that’s telling me to go for it. And it just became a really big part of my life and I started working it into my schedule.”

Riley Stephenson '21

"Music has taught me a lot about collaboration and expression. The fact that musical molecules in the air knocking into one another can bring people together and expose the human condition is so beautiful to me. In this video, my dad, sister, and I wanted to knock some musical molecules through some Caldwell devices to kindle some hope during this lonely time of social distancing."

Kiara Bush '23

"This year I started making comics for the Honors and Scholars Village Newsletter! I enjoy comic designing because I’ve always loved reading others’ work and doodling my own ideas and characters. I see it as a way to express myself, de-stress, and connect with the student body through common relatable moments. In past years I haven’t had time for it or a platform to share on, but it makes me happy to finally have a place to display my ideas and make others in the community smile :)"

Center for Creative Leadership

Each year, Caldwells travel to Greensboro, NC to take part in the Center for Creative Leadership, where they receive training in leadership, self-awareness, and the application of Caldwell principles in a professional environment.
CCL team in front of center
Group of caldwells discussing something at a table at CCL

”The best part of CCL for me was the coaching, where my coach drew from all my results to give me a better perspective of myself. Even in the first week since CCL ended, I’ve already used what I learned in relationships, class discussions, and in a job interview.

CCL has allowed me to know my strengths and preferences better, giving me a new sense of control in my life. I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from this program.”

—Grace Dodoo '20

Top: The 2019 CCL group and Bill Sternberg
Bottom: Grace Dodoo (pictured center) participating in a group activity.

This past year, I inhabited the role of Selection Day Coordinator. So how did I get from freshman year to here? First, the program immediately began investing in my growth and belief in myself as a leader. Even so, being able to take on the role was only possible because along the way I was given a master architect to learn from. Lexi DeFalco, the coordinator for Selection Day 2019, showed me what it looked like to practically lead as a servant and do so with grace. She embodied authority and humility in every interaction, and displayed how through trust and kindness (rather than commands) is the opportunity for excellence. As her Coordinator-in-training, I witnessed how her blueprint was not to be "in-charge," but to support others as a foundation for them to succeed. So when it came to be my turn then in 2020, I found confident footing in Lexi's example.

Myself and Maggie Lally (your future coordinator!) prepared for months. Every week we worked in concert with the staff and fellow fellows to decide everything from the menu, the venue, the seating... all the way up to the night before before the big day. And to be honest, that night before Selection Day 2020 was [a] tough one. It was late. We had to reprint this and that. I had a paper cut. However, in a moment emblematic of the entire coordination experience, Maggie and I (fueled by only slightly-suspicious midnight burrito bowls) kept supporting each other at every step. It ended up a very late night, but we got those spreadsheets printed. After a quick morning nap (and some bagels the next morning to calm down the chipotle) we watched as those around us put what servant leadership can accomplish on display. Just as I had seen as a freshman and with Lexi, I witnessed again an entire community, alumni and students alike, inhabit roles with professionalism, poise, and joy.

In the end, this role taught me invaluable skills in activating, dialoguing, trusting and believing in others to accomplish something great. It also showed me how something so big can happen when people serve together.

Yet, the most valuable effect of the role for me was a mental one. It is hard to describe the step that this experience allowed me to take, but it blew up the intimidation I felt as a freshman - the doubt that couldn't have imagined me as able to help lead something so large. In effect, and I mean this authentically, being the Selection Day Coordinator really did open my mind to Think Big.

—Jack O'Connor '21

group of interviewees posing for a picturePanel of seniors at selection day

Top image by Ana Sapp ('22); Bottom image by Jiana Brown ('21)

Group of students at selection dayStudents dancing hip hopThink Big sticker on a water bottle

Top and bottom photos by Jiana Brown ('21); Middle video by Noah Johnson ('19)

Power theme design with a lightbulb lit in darkness

The 2019-2020 academic year’s theme was Power.

To think of ‘leadership’ in a traditional, hierarchical sense, ‘power’ is its unquestionable partner; power rests in the hands of those at the top – the leaders. Through the lens of ‘servant leadership’ the power pyramid is upended. Servant-leadership is not, however, an abdication of power. Rather, it is a deep and deliberate examination of our vision and external use of power balanced with our inner journey of awareness and self-control.

The servant-leader stands not at the top of an organization but at its fulcrum, the support and point of rest for a group or situation, holding in balance the worlds of mission, people, and impact. To be a point of rest requires inordinate inner power and calm. It requires the ability to think and feel at the same time. Creating and maintaining this strength is the life-long work of leadership.

Power is visible and felt. Power is embodied in status and culture, gender and ethnicity. Critical to our leadership journeys is how we carry and respond to the inequities of power embodied in our physical selves and in how we leverage our power to equalize disparities.

—Dr. Janice Odom, Director

Reflections on Power

Devin Johnson talking to a table mate at the alumni conference

“When I think of power I think of strength, authority, unquestioning desire to do something; and coming into the Caldwell Fellows where the focus is servant leadership, that definitely changed. I’ve seen power be just the ability to persuade, change, inspire people and coming out of college, going through that experience in the Caldwell Fellows, that’s what I see power as now because that’s where real things can happen.”

—Devin Johnson '17

Tim Holbrook in well lit conference photo

“I want to create spaces where those who have not traditionally and historically been in positions of power have a space to become empowered. It is incumbent on my position of authority to create a space where people can be their authentic selves.”

—Tim Holbrook '93

Anu Frempong smiling next to a plant.

"We have been able to ask the uncomfortable questions that bring us closer to truly seeing one another."

On being on the Identity Team. Over the past year, the team has facilitated program-wide discussions such as The Race Conversation Series, as well as dialogue regarding gender, sexuality, and how our identities at large influence our lived experiences.

—Anu Frempong '21

Lydia Allen smiling in her teacher school picture.

“When I first started teaching, I didn't realize what a powerful job it is to have so much interaction and potential influence on high school students. That really made me stop and think about what exactly I am teaching.

I've become more aware that, in addition to teaching my students math, I have the opportunity to teach them things like how to persevere, how to treat one another, and how to ask for help. That's a lot of power. As a relatively young teacher, I have a window of time in which my students can really see themselves in me, and I hope I can influence them well.”

—Lydia Allen '14

Olivia Zalecki smiling next to a plant.

"Having power and being powerful are different. The former is based on the idea that power can be given and taken, while the latter is a perpetual state of rootedness in oneself. 

In my line of work grassroots organizing for my Asian American community, power does not come from institutions and dated systems in place. It can not be traded or sold to the highest bidder, nor buried deep in the earth. Power is not a commodity. Power belongs innately to the people, and therefore the people are always powerful. Its seeds are in the hearts and the minds of the Asian American youth I work with, who are unwavering in their radical re-imagining of what is possible. 

I see how powerful people are when they question the status quo, and when the ideals of accountability, communal care, and aid are upheld. Being powerful is unalienable confidence and security in oneself. Our power flourishes in the vision for a better future that includes equity for all people indefinitely."

—Olivia Zalecki '19

Pasta recipe from Jeremy Lowe

Pasta tutorial and recipe courtesy of Jeremy Lowe ('21).


Urban Adventure

San Francisco team in front of the golden gate bridge.

Photo by Neel Mandavilli ('15)

Our yearly Urban Adventures trip took a group of Fellows to the Bay Area to meet up with alumni, visit Stanford, attend cultural events, and explore the city.
Jaspal on the Bay beachGroup of SF kids on the beach

Top photo by Eiman Azam (’22)
Bottom photo by Jaspal Singh (’20)

”My trip to San Francisco gave me tremendous opportunities to grow – both professionally and personally. The timing of this trip could not have been better."
—Jaspal Singh '20

"This dialogue [about housing inequality] got me thinking about what it means to be a community, who gets included in the community, how does a community deal with inequality, who gets the responsibility in a community, etc. I understand certain things might affect one group more than it does another, and it is important to recognize that inequality, but the issues do not become the sole issues of that one group alone. Other groups, more privileged groups, in the community still continue to affect and influence issues and underprivileged groups in ways that they may or may not realize it. For that reason, issues cannot be regarded as a “them” problem but instead should be an “our” problem."  
— Eiman Azam '22

San Francisco team in SF

Top photo by Lingchao Mao (’20); Right photo by Chandler Marr (’20); Left photo by Chandler Marr (’20), Bottom photo by Neel Mandavilli (’15)

San Fransisco team at Stanford, spelling out "Caldwell" with their bodiesSan Francisco team in front of Muir Woods sign
And then...
Though a global pandemic interrupted the 2020 Spring semester, Caldwell Fellows still managed to find creative ways to rise above.
abstraction of a covid cellabstraction of a covid cellabstraction of a covid cellabstraction of a covid cell
chris sharkey playing guitar

Chris Sharkey ('23) strumming the Beatles.

Jaspal dancing traditional Indian dance

jaspal singh ('20) performs Northern Indian dance.

Libby doing pull ups

libby indermaur ('20) displays her pull up prowess.

Katie painting a landscape on a seed

katie brooks ('20) specializes in painting landscapes on tiny surfaces - in this case, a pumpkin seed.

Lucie juggling

Lucie ciccone ('23) shows off her juggling skills.

Ling playing ukulele

ling mao ('20) strums her ukulele.


layne baker

shayan barlas

katie brooks

pablo campos

Sam Crochet profile picture

Sam crochet

lexi defalco

Tre Dennis Profile Picture

tré dennis

grace dodoo

kori hyer

libby indermaur

mara lowry

ling mao

chandler marr

nadia narine

julia o'brien

ruth parsons

Stephen Paul profile image

stephen paul

Alex Persson profile picture

alex perssons

christian rhoney

katie ryan

andrea sanchez-zarate

chyra savage

Adam Schmidt profile image

adam schmidt

jaspal singh

ori soker

jack timothy

a closing note from the history & storytelling team

It is a somewhat daunting task to be asked to tell the stories of the Caldwell community, with current Fellows, alumni, and leadership playing integral roles in nearly every aspect of the NC State community and making big strides as servant leaders all across the world. By highlighting stories from annual aspects of the program like Wilderness and Selection Day, the stipend experiences of current Fellows, and even our day-to-day passions and pastimes post-COVID-19, we hope that we were able to capture the curiosity, creativity, and humility of our community.

Every day, we are inspired and awe-struck by the strength of our community in the values of the program: servant leadership, principled reflection, personal development, rigorous integrity, and the authentic self. Not only that, but the diversity in which we represent and uphold these values. This report aims to celebrate every aspect of the Caldwell journey: who we are, what we have done, where we have been, and where we have yet to go. 

We want to thank everyone who was willing to contribute to this report. It is a privilege to be able to sit down and listen to a member of our community share what excites them, how they have grown, and what they plan on doing next. In the future, we hope to share the stories of even more current Fellows and alumni, so please, don’t hesitate to reach out. Through this Annual Report and many others, we hope to continue to celebrate and reflect on the accomplishments and challenges of the Caldwell community.

With love, 

The History and Storytelling Team

Drawing of history and documentation team's faces.

Left to right: Mark Bishop ('22), Ana Sapp ('22), Jiana Brown ('21), Amber Detwiler ('22), Morgan Mase ('20), Bethany Faulkner ('16), Neel Mandavilli ('15)

Artwork by Ana Sapp

Director's note

I am a fan of ritual. Rituals draw focus to community mission and values; they weave individuals into a collective. Years ago, wanting to add some ritual into our Caldwell gatherings, I slipped in the practice of 'Words of Gratitude.' This pause has come to set the tone for our dinner seminars.  Words of Gratitude are offered by a member of the community that may draw from whatever feeds them - their spiritual tradition, an art form or piece of writing. The practice has offered a lens into the deep places of one another, while providing us all a communal deep breath.

The digital year in review before you is an exercise in gratitude. It reminds me of one of my favorite books of the year, The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay. Gay never dismisses the complexities, even the terrors, of life's formidable challenges. He looks at them straight on, with courage and with a powerful dose of wonder and gratitude. Spring 2020 brought formidable challenges to our well-ordered lives and plans, upending the spring semester and our world. We missed graduating our senior class. Summer travels and internships were cancelled.  We became a virtual program. But creativity has fueled us as we moved connections, our seminars, our SATELLITE and Service NC programs online. Creativity makes this 'Year In Review,' a 'Book of Delight.'  

My words of gratitude are to the team who made this happen and to the countless people who make this program a reality.  The profound investment of NC State, the Alumni Association, and all who share their resources of money and time to the formation of our Fellows are a wonder to me. The greater wonder are these young adults. Their dedication to justice and equity, and to directing their formidable talents to the greater good give me hope.  

Janice's signature

Dr. Janice Odom, Caldwell Fellows Director