Hello! My name is Abigail Lee Mazingo, and I am an alum from the 2007-2008 class of the Johnson Intern Program, referred to as “the JIP”. It is very interesting and fun to write this alumni spotlight, reminiscing about my year in the program, the memories and friendships made, and the life lessons learned. It was 13 years ago but also seems like it was yesterday.
I grew up in Eastern North Carolina and after graduating from Sewanee in May 2007 with a BS in Biology and aspirations to go to med school, coming back home to NC for a year of discernment seemed like a great choice. I remember driving into Carrboro, about 1.5 hours from my hometown, with excitement and nervousness. I was going to live with 7 strangers in an “intentional” community, serving others in the Triangle area. We called it “The Real World” but a little more “Holy”. All from very different backgrounds, different parts of the country, and different outlooks and beliefs on life yet with one commonality: all searching for our future and what our place in the world looks like.
I remember being so excited to see where we would all be placed for our year of service. I worked at The Redwoods Group, an insurance company that insured YMCAs and JCAs. Everyone else was in a non-profit, and I was in the only for-profit. This was not exactly what I was thinking when I signed up to serve others. However, as in most of my life experiences, I am always where I’m supposed to be. I learned the true meaning of philanthropy and how sustainable businesses can lift up local communities. It was also at Redwoods where I saw the importance of a strong business model and collaboration in an office environment. I had no intentions of having a career in insurance or business but ultimately, that did not matter.
My experience taught me about co-creation, collaboration, compassion, communion, and character – the 5 C’s. When asked about servant leadership and my time in the JIP, I honestly could not tell you any life-altering or life-changing moments. However, I can tell you that the 5 Cs introduced to me in the program remain constant in my life. After the JIP, I actually decided to go to nursing school. I worked for A Helping Hand being a companion to elderly and infirmed adults while I took my pre-requisites for school. It was during this time that I knew my discernment toward a career in nursing was true. I loved listening to my clients, hearing their stories, helping them with groceries and their everyday lives. I completed my BSN from Duke University and as an RN, I have worked with cancer patients, hospice patients, and patients with both acute and chronic disease. In 2016, I completed my MSN from The University of Florida and have worked as a nurse practitioner in Internal Medicine/Primary Care for the last 5 years. I continue to collaborate and co-create plans of care with my patients, serving them with compassion and empathy.
As for my fellow service members in the 2007-2008 year, we were all so different. Some of us vegan, others fully into bacon for breakfast. Some knew how to cook, others barely knew how to boil water. We all tried to love and accept each other although we barely knew each other. All of the girls in my service year attended my wedding in 2012. I had a Zoom reunion during COVID lockdown with 2 of the women. After moving back, I sat on the porch of a fellow member, laughing and talking about life and where we are now. The relationships made were awesome and beautiful. Our mentors and leaders were amazing. We weren’t perfect by any means and we struggled. But all in all, I hold each and every one of them close in my heart. My husband Stephen and I moved to Fernandina Beach, FL, in 2013. We had a little girl, Emma, in 2015. After a wonderful 7 years in Florida, we decided this year to move back closer to home to be with family and get back to our NC roots. We moved to Durham in October 2020 and I will say it is surreal to be back in the Triangle area after 10 years. I look forward to being back and continuing in my servant leadership, upholding the 5 Cs always. I am forever grateful to my year with the JIP/JSC, and I hope to give back to the community that so willingly supported me years ago.