Sam “Simba” Jacobs and Kelly Darden took on that task in late October, working night (#9: Pull an all-nighter at DH Hill Library) and day (#29 – rub the strolling professor statue’s head on the way to class).
Given the time of year when they took the challenge and their standing as freshmen, certain activities were impossible: running the Krispy Kreme Challenge (#1 – February 4), celebrating Founders Day (#47 – March 7) and voting in student body elections (#23 – late spring), for example.
Of the roughly 30 items they could complete, Jacobs and Darden finished about 15 – a solid one-a-day pace. The experience deepened the freshmen’s bond with NC State.
“It’s just given me a better sense of connection to campus because there are so many things you can do on campus that people don’t really get around to doing,” said Jacobs, a Pembroke native.
That’s exactly the effect Student Body President Chandler Thompson hoped for when she helped conceive the list two years ago. Thompson said she and Sam Dennis, fellow winner of the 2010 Leader of the Pack award, got the idea at a national conference of alumni ambassador programs in early 2010 after seeing a similar list of campus-defining activities on a deck of playing cards from Eastern Kentucky University.
Student Government later conducted an online student survey to build a list of activities that animate NC State students. Top-rated items included the Krispy Kreme Challenge, painting the Free Expression Tunnel, learning the NC State songs and tailgating at Carter-Finley Stadium. With support from the NC State Alumni Association and the Center for Student Leadership, Ethics and Public Service, Student Government began distributing card decks based on the list to freshmen in fall 2010.
“My overall goal is to connect students with NC State,” Thompson said. “It gives them a meaningful experience to remember when they graduate.”
Students have embraced the list. On the 54 things website, they can log the number of events they’ve completed and suggest new entries. Since launching, the site has gotten more than 14,000 student entries, Thompson said.
Participating in activities from the list helped ease the first-year transition for Darden.
“Rather than being an outsider coming into NC State, now I feel like one of the regular students here,” said Darden, a Greenville native and member of the NC State Marching Band.
“I would recommend (it) to anyone trying to meet new people,” Darden added. “Especially coming in as a freshman, this is a way to go do things.”
Like Darden, Jacobs recommends other freshman tackle the list early. Later years lead to tougher academic loads and leave less time for exploring NC State, he said.