Meet Kylee Parsons
This summer, rising UNC senior Kylee Parsons is working as an intern at the Right to Dream Academy, a soccer academy for boys in Ghana. She answered our questions to explain how she found and secured her internship, how Carolina helped her do it, and how UNC has influenced her intended career path.
Sport Administration and Public Relations
Wake Forest, NC
How she’s spending her summer:
Internship at the Right to Dream Academy in Ghana, a soccer academy.
How did UNC influence your summer decisions?
I received a scholarship for travel through the School of Media and Journalism.
Can you explain more about what you’re doing and what makes it special?
I decided to travel across the world to follow my dream of contributing to positive change in Africa through education and sport. I am spending three months at Right to Dream, one of the top youth soccer academies in the world. Students arrive here from some of the poorest villages in the western Africa. The Academy gives them opportunities in the classroom and on the soccer field, which gives the students hope for their futures.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis at the Academy?
After graduating from the Academy, students travel to the U.S. for boarding school and college, go to university in the U.K., or play professionally in Europe. During my time here, I’m helping prepare the 3 students going to the U.S. by teaching American literature, history, and culture. I also teach sports psychology and life skills/finances to a class of older boys to prepare them for university or for going professional. In addition to all that, I’m a teaching assistant for 3 different math classes. Then, because of my interests in photography and media, when I have time I help with taking photos and assisting our social media director.
How does what you’re doing now relate to your future goals?
I study sport administration and public relations, so it has been great to see how the Academy is run and learn about effective leadership, management, and marketing. Ultimately, I want to help break the cycle of poverty for people and encourage them to achieve their dreams, and I think using sport and education as a platform is a very effective way to do that.
Do you think your internship has helped you establish connections that will be useful in the future?
I have gained many connections here at Right to Dream and with their partner club FCN (a professional soccer club in Denmark). I may want to come back here after graduation or sometime in the future, and I know I’d be welcomed back. Or I may go to South Africa to help friends who started a soccer academy a few years ago. They are using Right to Dream as their model, and I think I would have a lot to contribute and help them grow. that.
What has been your favorite part of this summer so far?
I have had so many incredible moments and opportunities since I’ve been here. I’ve been able to completely immerse in another culture and meet incredible people. I love being able to work with the students every day and witness their drive and passion in everything they do. They never give up on anything because they have so much to be working for, and they realize the incredible opportunity that they’ve been given. They are committed to changing their country and making it a better place for future generations. Every day I am inspired by them.
What is your major takeaway from this experience?
When I arrived in Ghana, I was overwhelmed. It was so hot, no one has air conditioning, and I had to walk everywhere. The closest grocery store is two hours away. Many people don’t speak English, and I was the only white person most people in my village had ever seen. But once I let go and began to lean in, I was able to meet incredible people, get used to constantly sweating, learn some of the local language Twi, and embrace it when the kids run after me screaming “Obruni” (white person). Now, I enjoy my 1.5-mile walk to work and the people I get to interact with along the way; my canoe rides across the river every morning and evening are very serene (and a very cheap way to commute to work). When you learn to let go of your insecurities and step out of your comfort zone, amazing things can happen and incredible relationships can be formed.
Now, I enjoy my 1.5-mile walk to work and the people I get to interact with along the way; my canoe rides across the river every morning and evening are very serene (and a very cheap way to commute to work). When you learn to let go of your insecurities and step out of your comfort zone, amazing things can happen and incredible relationships can be formed.
How Carolina helped you:
Carolina has helped me in so many different ways. It has helped me find out who I am and what I want to do in my life. Through mistakes and failures, I’ve learned about the person I want to be, and it’s helped me strive to be that person. It has helped me create relationships that I will have for the rest of my life. It has taught me how to pursue my passions, no matter what the obstacles are that stand in the way.
Advice for prospective students:
Get involved. Figure out what you’re passionate about and pursue it. Whether it’s charity work, music, culture, science, sports, or travel, there is a club or organization for everything. You’ll learn so much about yourself, and you’ll meet incredible people.