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September 13, 2017
Call me a nerd, but sometimes I really relate to Luke Skywalker. If you’re unfamiliar with the Star Wars story, he’s a kid stuck on the desert planet, Tatooine (sorry Hoosiers), who goes on an epic journey through the galaxy. Along the way, he meets some of his best friends who help him realize his Jedi powers. Now, obviously I’m not a Jedi because I’m not that cool, but there is something notable about Luke’s journey.
I grew up in a small town in Indiana as the second-oldest of seven kids, so being a student-athlete at Harvard was something I never really considered. Freshman and sophomore year were just overwhelming blurs of class, practice, studying, and sleeping. But as sophomore year came to a close last spring, I realized that being at Harvard is all about taking advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you. Sometimes that is hard because it requires that you step out of your comfort zone a bit, or leave Tatooine in Luke’s case. But when you do, it is a really rewarding experience.
In May, I went on a mission trip with a former Harvard basketball teammate to Trinidad and Tobago. This was my first time out of the country, and I was sleeping on the floor, up in the mountains, on an island in the middle of the ocean, so you could say I was a bit out of my comfort zone. We spent the week teaching and playing sports with little kids in Maraval. Many of the kids came from broken families and just wanted someone to spend some time with them. At the end of the week, this little girl Syd, who had been pretty shy all week, came up to me and gave me a big hug and a necklace that said, “best friends.” In that moment, I realized how special that week had been for those kids and that wasn’t even comparable to how much it transformed me. That experience made me realize that the relationships we build with other people are really central to our growth. I reflected on my own life and all of the special people who have been there to support me.
As I am back on campus for my junior year and I reunite with friends in Winthrop House and in the greater Harvard community, I recognize once again that the greatest part about being here is the people. Hands down. I have met my best friends and some of the most amazing human beings on my team and within the Harvard community. The support I have received has allowed me to grow so much.
So maybe we all can’t be Jedi Masters, but we can all hope to have friends like Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia to show us our own powers.