Around The Yard: Paul Lei

Returning to for a second season, "Around The Yard: Life As A Harvard Student-Athlete" explores life away from the playing fields for select Harvard student-athletes through their own first-person narrative. For a full list of blog entries, click here.

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Paul Lei
April 12, 2016

The beginning of freshman year was confusing to say the least. New people, new buildings, new schedule. If I got a dollar for every time I got lost on campus I could probably pay to have my name on the science building. The one thing that really helped me settle in to Harvard was the golf team. Here, I’d like to give you a taste of what it means to me to be a member of the Harvard men’s golf team.  

I feel blessed to call these nine putt-sinking, long-walking, process-focused golfers my teammates. And although they more than occasionally make fun of me for my unhealthy obsession with rap music, I still love them very much. I spend about 30 hours a week playing golf with these guys, and I feel grateful that we all work together in making our team the best it can be. On the weekdays, we usually drive to The Country Club to hone our skills. With its tight fairways and miniature greens, TCC provides a formidable workspace for us to improve our games. We had a strong fall season and hope to build on our progress. After training in South Carolina and Georgia over spring break, we feel ready for Ivy Championships at the end of this season.

Although golf plays a major part of my life on campus, there is a reason it is called “student-athlete” and not “athlete-student.” Academics remain my first priority and I am thoroughly enjoying my classes this semester. In an effort to connect to my roots, I enrolled in Chinese. At first I found it challenging to memorize what seemed to be Egyptian hieroglyphs, but gradually the learning process became smoother. After lots of practice memorizing characters and reciting intonation, I recently spoke to my grandparents over the phone. It felt gratifying to be able to connect to my grandparents this way, and I thank the language program for this. Another class I am enjoying, Statistics 104, is taught by Professor Michael Parzen, a legend in the field of statistics. Parzen has a knack for shamelessly imbuing his lectures with tangents about whatever spontaneously pops up in his mind. Just this week, I learned about his three-legged cat named Casino and about Darth Maul’s significance in Star Wars. I appreciate how Parzen adds flavor to an academic field he loves so much, and I am now considering statistics as my concentration.  

Other than academics and golf, I am involved on Eleganza’s finance board. Eleganza is an annual fashion show that presents fashion from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and forms of expressions. All profits from the show go to the Boston charity Teen Empowerment. As a member of the finance board, I help raise money to fund the show by working with fashion houses. I try to give back to the community through this way.

After a long day in the class and on the golf course, I head back to my dorm, Thayer. Besides having the shortest walk to the college’s academic buildings, Thayer has great people as well. In the Thayer common room, I like to cool down by shooting pool, playing FIFA, and catching up with dorm-mates. Thayer is a great place to recharge as I enjoy time with friends and prepare for another day as a student-athlete.