Skip to main content

APPLES Intern, Riley Harper, is Making the Most of His Time at Carolina 

By Alex Saunders

Purses and bags hang along the wall of the Durham Scrap Exchange. Riley Harper has big dreams to accomplish during his time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a first-year student from Wake Forest, he is already engaged in service and imagining ways to leave the world a better place than he found it. 

During spring semester 2022, Harper works as a paid intern at the Scrap Exchange in Durham as part of the APPLES Service-Learning program. The Scrap Exchange is “a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote creativity, environmental awareness, and community through reuse.”  There, Harper performs a myriad of roles, from helping with day-to-day programming, to assisting with the construction of a community garden to reimagining the roles youth can play in the organization. 

APPLES Service-Learning, a student-led program of the Carolina Center for Public Service, transforms educational experiences by connecting academic learning and community-engaged service. APPLES spring-semester interns also enroll in a service-learning course through the School of Social Work to enhance their internship experience and provide structured reflection and learning. 

In high school, Harper volunteered at Note in the Pocket, a nonprofit in Raleigh that provides quality clothing to homeless and impoverished children and families. He served in distinct roles as a paid intern for two summers, including the president of the teen board. Harper also volunteered for over 100 hours at his local food bank and says that food sovereignty, as well as access to affordable and quality clothing, is an issue close to his heart. 

“I look at Note as, yes helping youth, but more about giving youth confidence. When you give someone a chance to pick out their own clothing it boosts their confidence.”  

As president for the youth board while at Note in the Pocket, Harper was passionate about introducing youth to volunteerism. He started volunteering when he was young and says that he was surrounded by mentors who were positive and went out of their way to give their time. Now, he wants to return the same investment that so many put into his leadership development to area youth. 

In only a brief time at Scrap Exchange, Harper has already laid the groundwork for something similar to the youth leadership board. He says it will take time to organize, but it is time well spent. 

Riley sits on a couch inside the Durham Scrap Exchange.

The teen board at the Scrap Exchange will offer a leadership opportunity for local youth to gain experience with leading a board in a nonprofit organization,” says Harper. He hopes the teen board will offer leadership opportunities for youth, as well as more in-depth leadership roles on the executive board.  

“It is my hope that this board will encourage many teenagers who have little to no experience with service to get started with getting involved in their community and to inspire a passion for service within members. Board members will be expected to spend some time volunteering at the Scrap Exchange and will also gain experience outside of the Scrap Exchange with fundraising and other drives for materials such as clothing drives.” 

Harper is exploring academic majors and considering academic paths that either might take him in the direction of business and management or biostatistics and pre-med. No matter his academic path, Harper is committed to a lifelong journey serving the public good.  

APPLES is full of opportunities for Carolina students to connect and engage with communities in North Carolina and beyond. Students can become involved in service and engagement in ways that are mutually beneficial to both the community partners and Carolina. APPLES encourages undergraduate students to get involved, have a meaningful experience, and learn and grow with the communities they work in. Announcements and deadlines are available on the APPLES webpage. Learn more about the program and begin your own journey today. 

A Note From Riley on APPLES Service-Learning:
“The internship course offered me an opportunity to reflect on ongoing and future projects at my internship and to learn about other students’ experiences.”

Comments are closed.