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Courtesy: Duke Photography
Rubenstein-Bing ACE Program Enters Third Year
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 05/09/2018
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DURHAM, N.C. – Twenty student-athletes from both Duke and Stanford are set to represent the Rubenstein-Bing Student-Athlete Civic Engagement (ACE) Program this summer. Now in its third year, the program provides one-time funding for student-athletes to engage in a three-week international service project, and the first of four overseas initiatives will begin June 21.

During the application process, student-athletes from each institution selected one of four international sites – Vietnam, South Africa, China or India, and each location provides a unique service-based focus.

Student-athletes traveling to Vietnam are scheduled to teach academics, sports and life skills to students at under-resourced middle schools with a focus on mentorship and promoting higher education, while those making the trip to South Africa will assist in running a sports-focused school holiday program for children in the informal community of Nomzamo Township, along with other projects according to local need.

At the China site, student-athletes will coach sports camps and lead education-focused workshops for local village children in a minority population area near Shangri-La located in southwestern China. The student-athletes participating at the India site will aid local organizations and community groups in New Delhi with health outreach efforts, focusing on particular local and regional health issues and concerns. 

“I think part of Duke's mission as a university is to create citizens of the world, who are aware and knowledgeable of cultures outside of the walls of Duke,” said Callie Humphrey, a rising junior on the Duke women’s lacrosse team. “ACE offers the chance for student-athletes like me who are unable to go abroad during the [school] year to engage with communities different than our own.  The program offers a chance for me to use the teamwork skills I've learned at Duke to give back.”

In February 2014, Duke's Board of Trustee's, chaired by Duke alumnus David Rubenstein, traveled to Palo Alto, Calif., and met with officials from Stanford to determine opportunities for collaboration between the two institutions. The challenging schedules of student-athletes, which make participating in off-campus activities such as study abroad programs difficult, was identified as an issue the two universities could work together on in order to develop a solution, leading to the genesis of ACE. The ACE program was officially announced in Spring 2015.

For additional information on each of the 40 student-athletes participating in the ACE Program, visit

Duke Student-Athletes Participating in the 2018 ACE Program
Vietnam – June 21-July 15
Mitch Finesilver (Greenwood Village, Colo.) – Wrestling
Eoin Gronningsater (Brooklyn, N.Y.) – Fencing
Alyssa Marsh (Davidson, N.C.) – Swimming & Diving
Josh Owsiany (Spring City, Pa.) – Swimming & Diving
Jillian Wolgemuth (Mount Joy, Pa.) – Field Hockey

South Africa – June 23-July 14
Max Feldman (Chapel Hill, N.C.) – Soccer
Callie Humphrey (Summit, N.J.) – Lacrosse
Kayla McCoy (Lincolnwood, Ill.) – Soccer
Sydnei Murphy (Apex, N.C.) – Track & Field
Roman Romero (Escalon, Calif.) – Wrestling

China – July 14-August 4
Lelia Boley (Westport, Conn.) – Rowing
Veronica Brtek (Colorado Spring, Colo.) – Cross Country, Track & Field
Meible Chi (Weston, Fla.) - Tennis
Riley Hickman (Davis, Calif.) – Swimming & Diving
Haley Schleicher (Virginia Beach, Va.) – Field Hockey

India – July 21-August 11
Nathaniel Hernandez (Southlake, Texas) – Swimming & Diving
Maddie Hess (Brandon, Fla.) – Swimming & Diving
Kylie Jordan (Leesburg, Va.) – Swimming & Diving
Kate Kutzer (South Pasadena, Calif.) – Track & Field
India Lowe (Mechanicsville, Va.) – Track & Field

About the Rubenstein-Bing Student-Athlete Civic Engagement (ACE) Program
The Rubenstein-Bing Student-Athlete Civic Engagement (ACE) Program provides one-time funding for accepted Duke and Stanford student-athletes to participate in three-week, immersive summer service experiences with an international community partner.   Each summer, 40 ACE student-athletes — 20 Blue Devils and 20 Cardinal — will participate in one of four international group programs with diverse service themes including health outreach, education, environmental sustainability and conservation, social enterprise, coaching, and more. ACE is a joint collaboration between Duke and Stanford Athletic Departments, as well as DukeEngage at Duke and the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford. The program, now in its third year, is made possible by the generous support of David Rubenstein and Peter and Helen Bing.

After their ACE experiences, student-athletes have the opportunity to give back to the program by serving as ACE Ambassadors and promoting the program among their teammates and peers and helping the next ACE team prepare for their experience. Twenty-five of the 40 Duke and Stanford ACE 2017 participants volunteered to serve as ACE Ambassadors during the 2017-2018 academic year. The ACE Ambassador Team is led by eleven ACE 2016 alumni who serve as ACE Ambassador Captains for the group this year.


Additional details are available on the program website:


Why Student-Athletes?
“[Not applying to ACE] was unimaginable. The joy I have seen from teammates returning from previous ACE programs and the positive impact they have had on local communities around the world has motivated and inspired me to take [on] this once-in-a-lifetime experience.” – Riley Hickman, Duke Men’s Swimming & Diving, ACE in China 2018

“Participating in [ACE in Vietnam] is worth it to me because it is an opportunity to be challenged and exposed to a different culture. I believe this experience will build more appreciation for the opportunities in my life and provide me with a meaningful experience that can help guide me in the future.” – Mitch Finesilver, Duke Wrestling, ACE in Vietnam 2018

“In addition to the relationships that I will form with the kids and other coaches, I think the perspective that this experience will give me will be invaluable to me as a student-athlete.  At Stanford, it's easy to think your sport or what you study is the most important thing in the world, which makes it easy to get overwhelmed...ACE is going to be a daily dose of perspective and I'm excited to grow in my confidence in myself and in my abilities.” – Sophia Sole, Stanford Women’s Sailing, ACE in Vietnam 2018

“As I am passionate about both education and fencing, ACE in Vietnam is a perfect combination of my love of community service and my passions. I believe that this unique opportunity will teach me more about myself and the significance of being an active member of the community.” – Anna Lee, Stanford Women’s Fencing, ACE in Vietnam 2018

When & Where are They Going?
For the summer of 2018, 40 student-athletes have been accepted into programs located in China, India, South Africa, and Vietnam. Each program will offer full-time volunteer placements for 10 ACE student-athlete participants (5 from Duke and 5 from Stanford). In addition to their service-placements, student-athletes will engage in reflection with on-site program staff and immersive enrichment activities to learn more about the history, culture, and issues facing the communities in which they are serving.

ACE in Vietnam: June 21 – July 15
Student-athletes will serve alongside a team of Vietnamese college students, teaching academics, sports, and life skills to middle school youth at a summer camp in rural Vietnam, with a focus on mentorship and promoting higher education.

ACE in South Africa: June 23 – July 14
Student-athletes will assist in running a sports-focused school holiday program for children in the informal community of Nomzamo Township near Gordon’s Bay, along with other projects according to local need.

ACE in China: July 14 – August 4
Student-athletes will coach sports camps and lead education-focused workshops for local village children in a minority population area near Shangri-La located in Yunnan Province in southwestern China.

ACE in India: July 21 – August 11
Student-athletes will aid local organizations and community groups in New Delhi with health outreach efforts, focusing on particular local and regional health issues and concerns.

Who are the ACE Student-Athletes?
In March 2018, the 40 accepted student-athletes received notification of their summer placements. So far, 18 different Duke teams and 25 different Stanford teams have been represented in ACE since 2016, for a total of 43 teams. This year, 12 Duke teams and 16 Stanford teams are represented in ACE. Six teams are sending their first ACE participant in 2018: Duke Women’s Cross-Country, Duke Field Hockey, Duke Women’s Soccer, Stanford Men’s Gymnastics, Stanford Women’s Tennis, and Stanford Wrestling. Student-athlete profiles are available on the ACE website:

Duke ACE Participants

Stanford ACE Participants

  • Isabella Duan (’21) – Women’s Lightweight Rowing – China
  • Max Evans (’21) – Men’s Rowing – South Africa
  • Justin Kang (’20) – Men’s Fencing – Vietnam
  • Brandon Kier (’20) – Wrestling – China
  • Jake Koffman (’21) – Men’s Track & Field – Vietnam
  • Taylor Lallas (’21) – Women’s Tennis – South Africa
  • Anna Lee (’21) – Women’s Fencing – Vietnam
  • Jacie Lemos (’20) – Lacrosse – China
  • Kaylie Mings (’21) – Field Hockey – Vietnam
  • Julia Persche (’20) – Lacrosse – India
  • Valerie Przekop (’21) – Women’s Track & Field – India
  • Nicki Schindler (’20) – Women’s Rowing – India
  • Amelia Smith (’21) – Beach Volleyball – South Africa
  • Sophia Sole (’21) – Women’s Sailing – Vietnam
  • John Spencer (’21) – Men’s Rowing – China
  • Blake Sun (’21) – Men’s Gymnastics – India
  • Mikaela Watson (’20) – Lacrosse – China
  • Cassidy Wiley (’19) – Women’s Water Polo – India
  • Aleeza Yu (’20) – Women’s Gymnastics – South Africa
  • Anja Zehfuss (’20) – Women’s Rowing – South Africa

The Big Picture: Impacts of ACE
Surveys of ACE 2017 participants have shown that volunteer immersion through ACE develops student-athletes’ cultural knowledge and understanding of global issues. ACE also increases student-athletes’ knowledge of service through experience with experts in the local community. ACE 2017 participants engaged in 680 hours of service in their first semester/quarter back on campus, or about 17 hours per student.

Along with developing participants’ global awareness, the ACE program also allows student-athletes to apply and build on their leadership and teamwork skills. A majority of ACE 2017 student-athletes reported improvement in their self-confidence, ability to collaborate, and ability to lead in challenging conditions.

Reflections from Past Participants
“Because of my ACE in China experience, I challenged myself to design my own DukeEngage independent project in the Seychelles for two months to continue my civic participation across the world.” – Anna Quinn (’18), Duke Women’s Swimming and Diving, ACE in China 2016

“Looking back…we tried our best to teach these kids English vocabulary and verb conjugation, but I don't think that's what they will remember when they think about camp. And that's okay. I think what they will remember most is having someone outside their families take such a deep interest in their lives. They will remember a bunch of twenty-somethings who started off as strangers, but became their playmates and their friends.” – Haley Farnsworth (’20), Stanford Women’s Swimming and Diving, ACE in Vietnam 2017

“Since I've returned from India to campus, I see the world though a different lens. I recycle now. I read several international news outlets. I spend more time outside. I eat more vegetables. I have board games in my room. I'm orchestrating a Kabaddi tournament. I’d do anything to play one more game of Kabaddi with my students.” – Rodney Herenton (’20), Stanford Men’s Basketball, ACE in India 2017

Blog posts written by the student-athletes during the program will be available throughout the summer via: Weekly “ACE Roundup” emails will be sent throughout the ACE summer highlighting students’ blog posts and providing program updates. To sign up, please contact

Photographs and video footage of the program will be available following the summer. In the fall, ACE participants are available to share new perspectives and experiences from their summers of service. Duke and Stanford Athletic departments will facilitate photo and interview requests.

Follow ACE on Social Media
Instagram: DukeStanfordACE; @ACEAthletes
Facebook: Rubenstein-Bing Student-Athlete Civic Engagement Program; @dukestanfordACE
YouTube: Rubenstein-Bing Student-Athlete Civic Engagement (ACE) Program Summer 2018
Hashtags: #ACEathletes, #ACEinIndia, #ACEinChina, #ACEinVietnam, #ACEinSouthAfrica