Posted August 16, 2013 by Morgan Bell 

How an Airport Run Helped My Future

I first heard about ACUI last year when Marsha Herman-Betzen and Liz Beltramini came to my alma mater and current place of employment, Davidson College. They were filming our college union for the PBS Visionaries documentary to highlight four college unions across the United States. My job was to pick up Marsha and Liz from the airport in Charlotte. William Brown, the director of the Davidson College Union, was ecstatic about my airport run and told me, “You never know what can come of this!”

Boy, was he right! I, on the other hand, wasn’t as excited as William, but I completed my task with a smile on my face and never thought twice about it.

Fast forward to this past June. I’m walking to greet my supervisor Ashley Owen, who is the assistant director of union programs, and William when they announce they have contacted the executive director of ACUI to set up an internship for me. I was shocked, and I’m pretty sure I started to cry. I could not believe I was being offered an amazing opportunity to intern with the executive director of a student affairs organization! I honestly didn’t expect Marsha to be open to the idea but thankfully she was.

Two months later, I was boarding a flight to the great state of Indiana to intern with ACUI. When I arrived to the office, the staff greeted me, and I immediately felt like part of the team. I learned that my first responsibility was to assist Liz with planning a portion of the museum that would be featured at the 100th anniversary conference in Orlando. My initial task was to go through the history of the Community of Practice for Multi-Ethnic Professionals and Allies (COMP) and create a document that detailed the history of the committee from its conception to today. The second part of my project was to summarize the information I had gathered by writing common themes that stood out in each decade. I didn’t think this task would be that difficult until I realized the history of the committee dates back to 1969! However, the knowledge I gained from this experience has been invaluable. I’ve seen pictures of Davidson’s own C. Shaw Smith at events hosted by the committee, and I learned about the leaders of COMP who eventually became college presidents and recipients of the prestigious Butts-Whiting Award.

In just two weeks I’ve learned so much about student affairs and higher education that all started with a simple trip to the airport. From writing the history of the COMP and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Community of Practice to participating in the Noon Edition segment on NPR with Marsha, Winston Shindell, and Bruce Jacobs, I have had the experience of a lifetime.

When I think about how this opportunity came about, I am reminded of a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. that my dad use to share with me: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and Earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'”

No matter how small your task is, do with a smile; you never know what can come of it.

Morgan Bell

Morgan Bell is the Union Ticket Office Manager at Davidson College.

Morgan graduated in 2012 from Davidson College. She is planning to pursue a degree in higher education and student affairs.


Morgan, it was great listening to you with Marsha, Bruce, and Winston on Noon Edition! Like you, I was so fortunate to have people look out for me when I was a student - at Indiana University. How lucky you are to have had your experience at Davidson and Knobloch. That foundation will stay with you for the rest of your life! I share a very similar airport-run experience with you as well. When I was a grad student at the University of South Carolina, we hosted the Region 5 conference at the Russell House. I was asked to go pick up the ACUI president, Debra Hammond, who was coming to speak at our conference. Wow, a 20 minute ride in the car with Debra is something I will never forget and it really did help shape my future!
Corbin Smyth
Comment posted 08/17/2013 11:59 AM
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