2013-14 Annual Report: Changing Lives At Home and Abroad

The Impact of the Center for Civic Engagement

One of the most widely recognized people on campus, Nicole DiDomenico personifies the Norwich value of Service Before Self. As the director of the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), DiDomenico is intimately involved in nearly every service project connected with the University. But, as is typical of the finest Norwich leaders, she defers credit for the outstanding work of the CCE to her student volunteers. “I get so much more out of my job than I give,” she insists. “Every time I serve alongside students, I see that not only do they do it with a passion I remember having at that age, but also, they do it with a sense of humor, fun, and lightness—while maintaining the passion. That to me is such a gift.”

Nicole DiDomenico, director for the Norwich University Center for Civic Engagement, escorted a group of NU students to Tanzania this past summer to help the residents of the village of Pommerin build a school and an orphanage.

Nicole DiDomenico, director for the Norwich University Center for Civic Engagement, escorted a group of NU students to Tanzania this past summer to help the residents of the village of Pommerin build a school and an orphanage.

Sophomore Jake Apthorpe ’17 is one of those impassioned students. A civil engineering major and outside linebacker on the Cadets football team, Jake is attending Norwich on an Air Force ROTC scholarship. As a rook last year, he felt he really didn’t have the time to devote to service, but DiDomenico, who first met him through Rotaract, helped him change his mind. “I came to Norwich with no intention of traveling abroad,” Jake says. “Nicole coaxed me into it. She is great at advocating for what she believes in.”

He doesn’t regret his decision. If not for Nicole’s encouragement, Jake never would have gone to Tanzania last summer to help the residents of Pommerin build a school and an orphanage. Although not new to service, Jake says he experienced firsthand the truth that service isn’t one individual helping others, but a team effort empowering others to help themselves. “This is the first time [the citizens of Pommerin] have been empowered, not just aided,” Jake says. “Now they realize what they can accomplish on their own.”

Junior Kacey Cairns ’16 of Waterford, Conn., has also fallen under the DiDomenico spell. A physical education major and forward on the Cadets women’s soccer team, Kacey coordinates the twice-yearly Norwich Red Cross blood drives. Under her leadership, last fall’s drive broke both the NU and Vermont records for most pints collected. “Each pint saves three lives, so we saved 2,500 people,” she says. Kacey, who is attending Norwich on a Brox Family Scholarship and intends to teach adaptive PE one day, is grateful for the opportunity to serve. “I enjoy making other people happy.”

Nicole DiDomenico is quick to point out the critical role donors play in the success of the CCE. “Every project we coordinate—whether clothing drives, the Red Cross blood drive, or NUVISIONS Abroad trips—costs money,” she says. “We absolutely could not have the impact we do without [their] help.”

To learn how you can support the Center for Civic Engagement, or any of the Forging the Future priorities, email development@norwich.edu, or call 802-485-2300.

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