Home One community Sarah Rusthoven ’23 credits initiative for helping ‘burst the Elon bubble’

Sarah Rusthoven ’23 credits initiative for helping ‘burst the Elon bubble’


Rusthoven, a communications design major, interned at Alamance Arts for the eight-week Campus Alamance program.

The Campus Alamance initiative offers students the opportunity to use the skills they learned at Elon to go out into the community and apply those skills by working with some of the university’s most important community partners.

Several of the 40 interns who participated this summer shared their experience of the program and the lessons they learned working in the community for eight weeks in this series of articles for Today at Elon.

For Sarah Rusthoven ’23, the Campus Alamance program provided an experience that is more than an internship.

“I wanted to do something in the community. It’s important to burst “the Elon bubble,” Rusthoven said. “I love that this program is called Campus Alamance because it’s about making Alamance County your campus, your learning space. Other than Elon, what kind of relationships can you make in the community? »

Rusthoven was one of 14 students in the original cohort of the Campus Alamance program, launched in 2021, and returned this year to broaden her experience. The program nearly tripled student participation and doubled employer participation a year later, and Rusthoven honed her communication skills this summer as an intern at Alamance Arts while pushing her out of her Elon comfort zone.

The communication design major has forged ties with various nonprofits in the area, helping them with their community development work, such as planning the first Hispanic Heritage Month festival and a summer art camp for children.

Providing 40 Elon students with internships from 28 community partners, the Campus Alamance initiative is led by the Student Professional Development Center and the Kernodle Center for Civic Life. Students worked 20-30 hours per week for the eight-week program and attended weekly professional development sessions hosted by Elon. The program is designed for all Elon students, regardless of grade or major, and each student involved receives a $2,500 stipend from the university.

Campus Alamance intern Sarah Rusthoven at Alamance Arts in Graham, North Carolina on Monday, July 18, 2022.

Getting new experiences and getting a glimpse of new perspectives is what motivated Rusthoven to be part of the Campus Alamance project in the first place. Elon’s intention to bring his students into the community – which is even supported in the Boldly Elon Strategic Plan – has only deepened his commitment to the program.

Prior to her internship, she hadn’t thought of a career in galleries or community art centers, mainly because her course preparation focused on more corporate outcomes.

“I have enjoyed learning more about nonprofit work and gaining that experience when Campus Alamance promotes. That’s not to say there’s only one way to be successful, but you can potentially work in the nonprofit sector and still be successful,” she said.

Her day-to-day duties include working on the center’s newsletter, annual report brochure, social media posts and event planning. She was able to get a glimpse of everything that goes into running a community arts organization. Collaborating with other organizations and dealing with artists and community members left her with experiences she would not have had without the internship.

“If I was doing a normal job on campus, I wouldn’t have been exposed to different things like that,” Rusthoven said. “Every Elon student should have an experience like this upon graduation,” Rusthoven said.