The recent months have been a whirlwind. With changing seasons, new jobs, and big hopes, I concluded my Davidson Impact Fellowship and embarked on a new journey. I have yet to have time to sit and think about the things I worked on and contributed to over the past year. So as I pause to write my final DIF post, an overwhelming amount of emotion and gratitude floods in.

What had I done in the past year? What can I say I accomplished? The first question is a bit easier to answer: I had worked with the first art museum in North Carolina. I led a team creating programs for young adults to engage with the museum’s collection. I trained a group of almost 80 older adults on touring strategies and special exhibition materials. I contributed to the museum’s newest initiative to bring area teens to connect with and learn from a beautiful collection of art, craft, and design. Frankly, I had been a part of more than I had hoped.

For the answer to my second question, I had to think a little harder. From writing resumes and cover letters for my next opportunity, I knew that I had accomplished a lot professionally: experience, ability, ingenuity, patience, dedication–all made easier by working for a cause I believed in. But what does all of that mean in the grand scheme of things? Yes, I am more qualified now, but why does that matter?

It matters because I am now prepared to move forward in the art world, helping to bring individuals of all ages, economic backgrounds, and ethnicities to an institution that speaks the universal language of culture: art. Art, as I have further discovered in the past year, can do more to teach us critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration. This amazing resource, which is housed in institutions across the world, should be advocated for. Every person should have access to educational programs at museums; everyone should have this chance to learn. This is what I am now more prepared to support because of my Impact Fellowship.

What the Impact Fellowship Program provides young graduates, in its most basic sense, is an unbelievable opportunity for a first job. On another level, it offers the chance to be part of a greater Davidson community that gives back. It provides the basic, yet invaluable, support of someone believing in you. At the highest tier, it provides preparedness–what I have come to learn as the most valuable trait that an individual can possess: the preparedness to jump into the greater community and work for what you believe in.

My Impact Fellowship has done exactly that: fully prepared me to take my next step toward accomplishing my career goals. It has led me to accept a position working for an art museum in New York advocating for free educational programs so that any visitor that might walk through the door–and individuals interested globally!–may have the opportunity to learn from the amazing cultural history we have available. Spending the past year in hands on experience in arts education has given me the material with which to support a wide variety of initiatives.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to The Mint Museum, thank you to Davidson College, and thank you to the wonderful Impact Fellow Program. This incredible opportunity has given me more than I could have hoped for in a first job and has better prepared me to take on the challenges of working for a nonprofit, and a cause that I believe in.