The Life of Significance Award: Respect Naturally Leads to Service
Service to others has been an important part of my life from my very youngest years, and none of the work was ever done with the intention to be recognized for it. Winning the Life of Significance Award was not something I anticipated. When my coach first told me that I was nominated, I was humbled just to see my name amongst the list of other nominees and I would like to think that the other nominees would say the same.
The Life of Significance Award reflects how much value the rugby community places on service to others, and it is an honor to be part of that community. One of the values the award emphasizes is respect. I don’t know how you can respect others if you’re not willing to reach out to them in their lives and help them in whatever way you can. Respect naturally leads to service.
For me, the cross section of rugby and service is rooted in the value of respect. My Christian faith has taught me to respect others and take opportunities to give back to the communities near and far. Since middle school, I have spent my summers on mission trips throughout the United States in South Dakota, Philadelphia, and various other places serving underprivileged communities. These experiences gave me a new found respect for everything my family has provided to me and showed me how fortunate I have been in my life.
My personal values ultimately led me to rugby. I started played rugby during my two years abroad with the United World Colleges program. During my junior year of high school, I received a letter from the United World Colleges about finishing my high school education abroad in Swaziland. One of the things that appealed to me about the program is the International Baccalaureate curriculum, which includes performing 100 hours of community service before graduation. As someone who valued service my entire life it was a natural fit. The program offered two years abroad, all expenses paid, with a scholarship to college afterwards as well. It seemed like a good opportunity, so I transferred to Swaziland to repeat my junior year and finish my high school education there.
While I was studying, my psychology teacher launched a peer-mentoring program with an orphan village at the foot of the mountain where our school was located. We met once a week with these high school-age orphans, sharing time with them in a way that expanded both our worlds. Building relationships and earning the respect of peers who had nothing in common with me was a difficult but rewarding experience.
As someone who played team sports my entire life, I wanted to continue playing during my time abroad. My school in Africa didn’t offer any of the sports I was used to playing in the States, so I decided to pick up rugby. I loved it, and when I came back to the States and started college I joined the Harvard rugby team. I am now the President of the Harvard Rugby club and my goal is for us to instill a culture of respect within the program for generations to come.
Respect leads to service and as a club we have dedicated ourselves to giving back to the community at least once a semester. We have raised money for the MS Foundation and participated in the MS Walk in Boston. We are currently in the process of planning a Habitat for Humanity build because it fits the gifts that we have: A lot of big strong guys who can do physical labor. It’s important, as a rugby team, that we do more than just play rugby, so we’re committed to giving back to others out of the blessings that we’ve received.
I am grateful for all of the opportunities I had in my life and thankful for the values instilled in me by parents and my faith. I am grateful for the opportunity to study abroad and discover a sport I am truly passionate about. Finally, I am grateful to have had the chance to make an impact on communities across the world.