Alumni Spotlight on Amanda Wilson: Adventures in South Africa


In what can only be described as a whirlwind adventure, American Public University alumna, university staff member, and Golden Key Chapter Advisor Amanda Wilson recently travelled with two university student officers to Cape Town, South Africa to present at the Golden Key South African Summit 2013. Amanda was selected as an international delegate and presenter, motivating and encouraging Golden Key members from across the globe to break down physical boundaries and to connect in service and leadership excellence.

“Africa was brilliant—absolutely breath-taking,” Amanda says of the seven-day excursion. Her tale includes a safari, a wildlife preservation, picturesque rocky mountains, baboons, biltong – a variety of cured meat, penguin beaches, monumental waves crashing on The Cape of Good Hope, and a people passionate about human rights, education, the environment, and the overall state of Africa.

“I left for Africa a little nervous about the potential dangers lurking in the bush,” said Amanda, using a phrase to describe Africa. “The street crime, the poverty, all the barbed wire, baboons, cobras, yellow fever, malaria, the water and ice, it was intimidating to think about! I really just didn’t know what to expect!”

Luckily, her spirit of adventure kicked in upon arrival, turning it into the trip of a lifetime!

Amanda summarizes the trip – and her favorite moment – with this story from the summit itself:

I was attending a presentation about social change. After just having toured the country-side, driving through the townships and experiencing the magic of South African culture, I sat watching the future leaders (i.e., the top 15% of students in the country) devise plans to enact change that included integrating service into their communities to make a difference; teaching people to advocate for the value of education; and brainstorming ways to utilize their natural resources in a responsible and efficient way as a country. The passion of the presenters, the activity in the audience, and the overall synergy of everyone at the Golden Key conference was absolutely beautiful and inspiring! They believe, like Nelson Mandela said, that education could change the world, and that’s what was happening, right before my very eyes.

Amanda’s tale weaves together playfulness and depth, steering in the direction of hope. From giraffes to art and “Beware of Cobra” signs to humanity, the ambiance and spirit of South Africa have clearly made a significant impact on Amanda, who has a newfound ambition to explore environmental studies.

Amanda graduated in November 2012 with her M.B.A. She is currently working in The Office of Student and Alumni Affairs to develop and expand leadership and engagement opportunities for students and alumni at a distance. Amanda, a 2012 nominee for The James P. Etter Creativity and Innovation Award, is passionate about and vested in the concept of community—striving to create co-curricular opportunities for university members to unite from all corners of the globe.

Explore South Africa with Amanda on the slideshow below, and join us in congratulating the AMU and APU Chapter of Golden Key for their participation and presence at the South African Summit!

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