Last year, Queens’ Up ‘til Dawn (U2D) event raised over $26,000 for St. Jude over the entire duration of the campaign.
This year, they’ve already risen over half that total, with a goal of $30,000, and the event isn’t until March 19.
Executive Director Charlie Michelin, ’17, has utilized U2D’s premiere on campus last year and what Pat Taft, the director of the Center for Active Citizenship, describes as an “uncanny ability to structure and run his meetings,” to shift the event from the new thing on campus to the best Up ‘til Dawn in the southeast, measured by fundraising dollars, in a short amount of time.
Even Taft has felt Michelin’s high expectations, as she had to provide a bagel breakfast for the Up ‘til Dawn board, a penalty incurred for being only minutes late for one of the 9 a.m. Friday meetings last semester.
“He holds people accountable,” she reminisced with a smile.Sydney Cash ’18, the side events chair for the organization agrees.
“He’s very professional,” she said of his meetings, “and sounds like a business leader, but he’s still a student and can relate to us. I’ve never seen someone marry them like that.”
Those high expectations are driven by his commitment to St. Jude, and, as he explained, “stems almost entirely from hearing patients” over the summer of 2015 during his visit to the Memphis, Tenn. children’s hospital. One moment that particularly stood out to him was the response of a 17-year-old patient that was asked how cancer had changed his life:
“It’s opened doors for me.”
“I was dumbfounded,” Michelin said. “It’s not just one person that cares [about the patient], it’s the entire organization.” It’s that spirit of teamwork that he’s “trying to instill… at Queens.”
But work to unite the student body for a cause like this does not happen overnight. Amy McKinney, the senior regional development representative and Michelin’s primary contact at St. Jude, knows that firsthand. She says he meets with her for an hour, a week before another, separate hour-long weekly meeting with the Queens U2D board.
Cash says he also regularly organizes meetings within subcommittees. Between class and being a resident assistant, Michelin doesn’t have many opportunities for a break, but that seems to be the way he wants it.
“It’s everything he does,” said Cash. “He cut ties from [other commitments] distracting him from his main priority – Up ‘til Dawn.”
McKinney, who has dealt with hundreds of Up ‘til Dawn executive directors in the past, says of Michelin’s leadership:
“He’s the cream of the crop. He’s dedicated to being great, and knows the difference between good and great.”
This semester, the Chronicle will be doing a series spotlighting Queens students making a difference. If you know a Queens student who deserves to have his or her work highlighted, email editor Eliza Wireback at firstname.lastname@example.org.