N.C. A&T Social Work Alumna Reflects on Summer of Service Abroad

By Jackie Torok / 03/03/2020 Alumni, College of Health and Human Sciences,

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (March 3, 2020) – Good fortune played a part in leading North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University alumna Jazmaine Mayo ’19 to experience a summer abroad – going to London alone and working there for three straight months – serving people who are down on their luck.

But it was Mayo’s education in the College of Health and Human Sciences Department of Sociology and Social Work, plus her commitment to community service, that ultimately made it possible.

Mayo found out about the opportunity when she happened to be sitting in sociology and social work professor Pamela Moye’s office last spring.

A week later, Mayo received notification that her application, which included the resume she crafted with N.C. A&T’s Office of Career Services along with an interview, was accepted.

The next step was choosing where she wanted to spend her three-month internship: England, France, Spain or the United States. Once she opted to try for an intern coordinator position in London with The Felix Project, the Bunn, North Carolina native was required to undergo another more in-depth process, including interviews with the nonprofit’s head and assistant coordinator, before she made the final cut of 20 participants.

“Getting around a city the size of London by myself and so far away from home with no close friends or family members nearby forced me to mature a lot – fast,” said Mayo.

The Felix Project was established in 2016 to address food insecurity by collecting and distributing good, edible surplus food that otherwise would go to waste.

Staff and volunteers dispense the excess food to schools, charities, shelters, churches and people they encounter on the street while driving electric vans donated by Renault, riding bicycles or walking.

During her time working from the central London location, Mayo’s duties ranged from data entry to “depo”: collecting food, bagging it and taking it out into the city.

When operating in the office, Mayo ensured delivery routes were efficient and vans were ready, set schedules and performed audits of partner charities to certify food was going where it should.

Outside the office, Mayo usually walked an average of three miles a day to “meet people where they are,” she said.

“If I had enough time on a given day, I would make two passes along my assigned route just to make sure people received the food they needed,” said Mayo.

It was often fastest for her to walk to her destinations rather than try to battle traffic on a bus, taxi or ride on the Tube, the city’s subway system. “You quickly learn to be conscious of your surroundings,” she said.

Mayo said it also afforded her the chance to explore London and its history. Before she returned to North Carolina, she made time to take in Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and the site of a Roman bath.

“Sometimes we forget how young the United States is compared with many other nations across the globe,” she said. “My group included a student from Croatia and a student from Ghana, plus eight of us from the U.S. With us all working together we not only learned how different our cultures are but also how much we really have in common.”

Now that Mayo is back in Greensboro, she keeps in touch with each of the members of her group via social media. She is hoping to reunite in person later this year with those from Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and the other student from North Carolina, who attended Elon University, to share how they have been able to apply the lessons of their London experience at home.

Mayo is already working with the student from Atlanta on a demographic study as she pursues graduate school. She plans to eventually launch a nonprofit modeled on The Felix Project that serves veterans and expand it across the state, region and country.

“I strongly recommend that students study abroad if they can, even if they have to go by themselves,” said Mayo. “It’s crazy scary, but it will be culturally, mentally and professionally rewarding.”

Media Contact Information: jtorok@ncat.edu