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Large group of students celebrating graduation, Winter 2018

Adam Burden

Adam Burden smiling in a green tie

Student Involvement


Adam Burden brightens up campus with an award-winning program

By Teagan Welch, Assistant Director of Communications for Student Affairs


Adam Burden wasn’t expecting to receive the 2022-2023 Student Affairs Outstanding Program/Initiative Award for the "Light Up the Lake" program. But, when he found out he had won, he attributed the victory to the support from the people around him.

“To pull off these things, you can’t do it all by yourself. It really is a team effort to make everything come to life,” he said.

As the Director of Student Involvement at Charlotte, Burden wears many hats. Back in 2022, he pioneered the Light Up The Lake program. It is an event that happens in the fall semester, just before winter break. Students come together to mingle, drink hot cocoa, and see the Hechenbleikner Lake on campus illuminated by thousands of tiny green, white and gold lights. 

Although it is a fun event for students and staff alike, the people working behind the scenes, like Burden, work hard to put it all together.

“I was literally stringing [holiday] lights up myself; definitely put some blood sweat and tears into it.”

For Burden, receiving the award for Light Up the Lake meant a lot, but there was more to celebrate. 

“I was happy that other people saw the value and purpose behind what we were trying to do,” Burden stated. “The award is nice, but seeing the event catching on and sort of becoming a tradition on campus is very rewarding too.” 

Burden has worked in Student Involvement at Charlotte for 10 years now. He says the best part of being a part of the Niner community is seeing the impact he has on the students. 

“I have always thought of our office as the place that helps students make positive memories of their college experience,” he said. “When we host a large event, and there’s a ton of students out there connecting, there’s a feeling of togetherness and community and that makes me really happy to see.”

Burden says he loves working at Charlotte because he’s able to come up with new ideas and actually be celebrated for that.

“It’s a school where you feel like you can make an impact or make a change,” he explained. “I appreciate the willingness to be creative and do something with it.”


Adam Burden, Karen Shaffer, Kevin Bailey and a student at Light Up The Lake