Four Michigan State University Students Visit Ally Bank’s Charlotte, NC Headquarters to Volunteer with Campus Pride

By: Austin Huckins and Nick Carlier

Alternative Spartan Breaks, a student-led organization at Michigan State University (MSU), offers undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to engage in service learning in place of a traditional spring break. During Spring Break 2022, three MSU undergraduates and one graduate student took the 11 hour drive from East Lansing, MI to Charlotte, NC to engage with Campus Pride. The group’s home throughout the 7 day trip was the United Covenant Church of Christ located in Northeastern Charlotte. 

The location for this trip’s service was the second floor of the newly-built Ally Charlotte Center, a building in uptown that serves as a collaborative office space for Ally employees. It was here that the group collaborated with Shane Windmeyer in order to test, edit, and contribute to the development of two new Campus Pride initiatives: Career Connect and the Medical School Index. The group also made an unlikely friend in John, the building’s lobby concierge. On the final day of service, the group took the picture displayed below:

Developing the Medical School Index was of great interest to the group. Service directed at this project primarily consisted of proofreading a questionnaire created by doctors specializing in or passionate about LGBTQ+ medicine. The group added their own questions, clarified wording, and made the questionnaire more accessible, overall. 

Another focus of the group’s service was addressing the inequities that members of the LGBTQ+ community face when attempting to enter the workforce and find professional mentorship. Campus Pride Career Connect is a tool developed for this purpose, and the group contributed to this new platform by providing feedback in regard to website design, functionality, and user experience. The feedback was provided to both Shane and the website developers themselves. 

In addition to service directed at tangible gains, the group was able to engage in a significant amount of service learning. This included meeting with Reggie Willis, the Chief Diversity Office at Ally as well as a lunch-and-learn with Ally’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team, a discussion with a diverse panel of Ally employees, and a Zoom interview with Katie Couric. 

In all, the week was a success. The group found the perspectives gained throughout the week to be inspiring and highly applicable to future careers. Dialogues related to the relationship between LGBTQ+ patients and their providers showed the group that there is much progress to be made in the area of LGBTQ+ medicine. Through conversations with Ally’s DEI team, the group gained an understanding of the importance of inclusion in the workplace and the impact that this can have on an organization’s culture and employee satisfaction. 


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