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54 Things, But Only One NC State

Some college experiences are universal: students pull all-nighters, find their way around campus and learn to live with roommates on every campus.

But only at NC State could you join 8,000 crazed friends in a doughnut-fueled five-mile run, paint the Free Expression Tunnel or see the Memorial Belltower lit red for a Wolfpack sports victory. These are NC State traditions, and Student Government has given students a new way to learn about and participate in them: the “54 Things To Do At NC State” list.

Student Body President Chandler Thompson said she and Sam Dennis, fellow winner of the 2010 Leader of the Pack award, conceived the list 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.

Freshmen Sam “Simba” Jacobs and Kelly Darden took on the list in October 2011. During a two-week period, the pair attempted to complete as many items as possible.

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.”

“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.