Carnegie Mellon Athletics has surely helped me become the person I am today. When I entered campus as a freshman I had two goals: to become an All-American and make it to medical school. While I reached one of the two goals, I realized along the way that my journey through athletics was never about getting from point A (a recent high school graduate) to point B (an All-American). The journey was really about every step in between and the detours I would end up taking along the way.
My freshman year I suffered a serious back injury that caused me to miss nearly three seasons, but throughout my recovery, I felt as close with the team as ever. My teammates constantly checked in with me and motivated me to stay diligent in my rehabilitation. While I was doing this, I realized my impact on the golf team did not have to be limited to on the course. So I became a founding member of the Athletics Peer Health and Wellness Committee (The Plaidvocates). Through my work in this organization and my diligent attendance to practices even though I could not play, my second career college coach, Nick Dunn, realized the passion I had for the team. He made sure I constantly felt like I was a contributing member, and eventually when my epidural recovery was over, he brought me as a traveling team member to the University Athletic Association Championship. With a lot of determination and a lot more luck, I placed third in the tournament and was later named to the All-UAA First Team. However, that success was not even close to my favorite memory from college golf.
My best on-the-course memory was our conference championship the following year. Although I barely qualified for the starting roster, I had pushed my match into the 18th hole despite being clearly overmatched. On that hole, I was left with a 3.5-foot sliding putt to force a playoff between our squad and our rival, but unfortunately I missed. I was devastated to say the least. With a crowd of 40+ people watching and my teammates relying on me, I let them down. However, the way my teammates and coaches came to my aid made me feel that I would forever be a better golfer, student, and future doctor from this experience. They encouraged me that I handled the intense pressure all the way up to the 18th hole with grace despite having never been in a situation like that. Throughout my college career, I struggled for playing time, but my teammates always looked to me with reassurance. As I matured, I sought to leave a legacy on the team since I knew my legacy would likely not be left on the course.
To this end, I brought my passion for community improvement to the team, and my teammates bought into the message. We sought to evidence our commitment to Pittsburgh by helping its residents. My teammates supported me in my coaching endeavors with the First Tee of Pittsburgh, a golf outreach organization for youth, and with the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania. Having the support of 12+ guys for any quest I attempted made me feel that even if I stumbled, I would not be alone.
In addition to having my teammates support, I learned a valuable lesson from collegiate golf about perseverance. The weather is rarely good, the courses are typically challenging, and schoolwork often feels overwhelming when traveling. However, my team had a saying that went along the lines of “Tartan golf never stops grinding.” Every time we missed a green in regulation, we were grinding for that par, or every time we had assignments piling up, we were grinding to submit top quality work while on the road. My Tartan experience has surely taught me how to be a team member, a leader, and a diligent worker, and I know these skills will help me throughout my future.