Since applications are starting for next year’s Victory Scholars, I wanted to reflect back upon why I applied and whether those expectations have been met. The main reason I applied was because I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted an opportunity to experience a new culture, live in a new country, and push myself to create new relationships in an unknown environment. Sport Changes Life gave me this opportunity in the perfect program, combining three things that I am passionate about in life: education, basketball, and community engagement.
So, has this experience met my expectations of why I applied? I can answer that with a resounding yes. This year has been the hardest year of my life. This experience has challenged me in ways that I could never have expected to be challenged. There have many days where I wake up and ask myself where I go from here, what’s next? I’ve had so many deep personal reflections, conversations, and breakdowns that only my closest family and friends can truly comprehend. I’ve had many days where I have wanted to go home. Many days where I think, “What if I had just started my life like everyone else? What if I was with my friends? What if I had settled down?” I’ve struggled with these “what ifs” for the entire year, wondering what could’ve been different. I know from the outside it may look like everything has been smooth sailing and everything has been going perfectly, but life never is that easy. During my time here, I have had many internal struggles that have been intensified because I am 3000 miles from home. I’ve struggled with relationships, with my future, with basketball, to just name a few. Some days are tougher than others, but the one thing, along with these friends and family that keep me going, is that I know that God has a plan for me. At the end of the day, everything is going to work out as He intends it.
Along with strengthening my relationships with God and the people closest to me, this experience has also strengthened my relationship with myself. The biggest thing I have learned is that it is okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to ask your family and friends for help when you’re struggling. It takes courage and strength to be able to open up, something that I didn’t realize until this year. I don’t feel the need to hide things or put up a fake shield of happiness around the people closest to us, like we find ourselves doing so often. This year has made me so much stronger as a person and has made me much more confident in myself. It has taught me who I am and what is important in my life, and even more importantly, who is important in my life.
So would I recommend someone to apply for the Victory Scholar program? Yes. Is it challenging? Also yes. It is an incredibly fulfilling experience and is such a great opportunity to grow and experience new things, all while helping kids throughout Ireland. I wouldn’t trade this year, or this experience, for anything.
I want to thank the SCL staff for selecting me and supporting me throughout the year. I also want to thank the Rory Foundation and all the other sponsors for making this program possible. Thank you to the other 23 Victory Scholars for all of your help and support throughout this year. I couldn’t have asked to be surrounded by better friends. Lastly, of course thank you to my family and friends back home. I have some pretty special people in my life and I am so incredibly thankful for them and how close this experience has brought us. Special thanks to those 3 or 4 friends that I have called or texted so many times about all of my problems and craziness going through my head. Also to my parents and my sister, who are always available to talk and have supported me in every way that I need. Love you all.