Caldwell Fellows build shack to help others build homes

September 24, 2013
By Bill Krueger

Caldwell Fellows and alumni came together in the Brickyard this weekend to turn scrap planks of plywood into a red lean-to for the 22nd annual Shack-a-Thon, a weeklong fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity of Wake County.

Beginning Monday, the shack became a temporary home for participating Caldwell Fellows. In addition to manning their shack during the day, the Fellows will take turns spending the night until the event ends at 5 p.m. Friday.


Julia Rao and Ryan O’Donnell pass time in the Caldwell Fellows’ shack.

Julia Rao, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, helped build the shack on Sunday and was one of the first to staff it on Monday.

“When we started we had absolutely no plan,” Rao says. “I’m impressed we were able to make it look this good.”

Ryan O’Donnell, a junior in business administration, joined Rao in the shack. Looking up from his Chinese homework, he mentioned that this year’s shack is slightly larger than those in previous years. “We’ll be able to fit more people in it, that’s for sure,” he says.

According to Shack-a-Thon rules, each organization’s shack must be manned by at least two students at all times and can be no larger than 12-by-12 feet.

Last year, the Fellows raised about $3,400 and placed third behind the first-place Poole College of Management and second-place College of Natural Resources. According to Summer Higdon, a senior in wildlife biology and leader of the Caldwell Fellows’ Shack-a-Thon effort, the group hopes to raise $4,000 this week through in-person and online donations.

In addition to collecting donations, the group will raffle off donated gift certificates and coupons from local restaurants.

Higdon says she plans on spending most of her free time in the shack this week. “Everyone seems really excited about it,” she says. “It’s more exciting when you can see it there and you think ‘oh I get to live in this shack, that’s really cool.’”

To contribute to Habitat for Humanity through the Caldwell Fellows, visit

— Alex Sanchez


The Caldwell Fellows program is an intensive leadership-development scholarship program that was created by the Alumni Association to honor the legacy of Chancellor John T. Caldwell.


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