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The weekend of September 17th-18th, the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Student Association (NLASA) held its annual retreat at R-C Scout Ranch in in Payson, AZ. 32 students attended to discuss and identify goals for the upcoming year, build community, and eat s’mores around the bonfire!
The students, all ASU undergraduates interested in nonprofit sector careers, worked together to develop their vision for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance at ASU and grow together as members of the local and national NLA community.
Amy Schwabenlender, Vice President of Community Impact for Valley of the Sun United Way, presented this year's theme: Innovate, and shared her experience in the nonprofit field. The group was also joined by an NLA (formerly American Humanics) alumna from the first class, Lanette Rugis, who brought her wisdom and the history of the program to the students, as well as keeping our bellies full and happy!
Stacia Stone, a second year Urban Studies student and first year NLASA member, wrote this reflection on the retreat:
There is a passion within students working to enter the nonprofit sector that is unlike any other. It’s a passion burning from hope and selflessness - and maybe just a little bit of anger. At this year’s NLASA fall retreat, I was so lucky to see how the fire inside each of us is not only present in a classroom setting, where we are expected to think about it, but still burning when we are in the middle of nowhere, and could be focused on whatever we wanted. Through games, guest speaker presentations, and time for fellowship, the drive for change brought by each individual at the NLASA fall retreat made the experience very enriching, encouraging, and successful.
The guest speaker at this year’s retreat was Amy Schwabenlender, Vice President of Community Impact for the Valley of the Sun United Way. Not only was she able to give us a glance into the amazing work a nonprofit can achieve, but was a shining example of how to keep our passion for change burning beyond this college program. I was so thankful for her encouraging testimony of leaving her original career path to pursue work that truly had worth, and will carry it with me the next time someone raises their eyebrows in question of my career choices (I’m sure we all know the look).
We were also so lucky to have Lanette Rugis, an alumni of our program, to serve and to guide us. She spoke to us on scholarships offered from the NLA and shared helpful fundraising ideas to reach our goal, for attending the AMI conference. It was so awesome to hear that we are a part of a program that wants to give so much to its students, but I felt the best part about Lanette’s attendance was seeing her dedication to the ASU NLASA. She told us about so many ways we could be helped, but she made me think about how badly I wish I could give back. I hope that someday soon, I will be able to.
The rest of our time was spent focused on our growth as a group and what challenges we may face. We were able to play games that lead to reflection on unforeseen problems any of us could encounter in the nonprofit sector, from losing funding to unsuccessful partnerships, and yet we were encouraging throughout all of it. I saw this same encouragement in small groups, as we planned our semester together, and truly became excited for all the NLASA is working towards. The rest of our time, we bonded with one another over our past internships and future goals, celebrating what all of us have done and are working towards. I couldn’t help but think how we are expected to master an understanding of the future of the nonprofit sector, and yet we were in the midst of making it. From the kindness, respect, and encouragement - even across differing interests - I saw at this year’s retreat, I couldn’t be more excited for where the nonprofits are headed, or for the role I will get to play.