In an earlier blog, I have spoken about how studying abroad shapes a person’s destiny. In this one I will speak about alumni “giving back” to their institution. I will speak with specific reference to student athletes, because they are a group that is close to my heart and to what we do at the HAT FUND.
Just as there are students who go abroad to pursue higher academic learning, there are student athletes who also go overseas to improve their game; it is critical for them to continue to maintain physical fitness and remain competitive even while pursuing academics away from the comfort-zone of home environs.
When a student has studied or an athlete has trained overseas, the intercultural benefits remain instilled in the person even long after returning to his/her home country. Athletes develop a special affinity too for the institution where they have learnt and improved their game. Therefore, when they have returned to their home country, they would make excellent ambassadors for the institution.
When alumni give back, they do so for several reasons — such as self-esteem (it feels good to be known as a donor), or it could be to make a difference in the lives of others, or simply to recognize the role the training institution has played in their personal growth. Giving back is the truest measure of loyalty to one’s alma mater. Institutions that have provided the highest level of personal development to their students and those that have provided the warmest environment for strong friendships to develop amongst classmates will most naturally and easily attract the highest level of loyalty from their alumni.
Though it may appear that big stars of sports live in the stratosphere surrounded by riches, it can be said that innumerable sports persons who have made it to the big leagues have very humble origins and never forget the early struggles to overcome the hardships and hurdles they have grown up with. The “giving-back” can take several forms. Some athletes make a financial contribution; some encourage other promising athletes to also enroll in the same institution, yet others travel back to the institution regularly to share experience and advice with younger athletes.
I am happy and proud to relate some examples from right here at HAT where we are driven by the zeal that no talent should be wasted.
Alumni Eric chose to give back to HAT by returning as a student coach. He trains and inspires other students by relating his personal experiences on how training ethics have benefited him. He does not forget that when he joined HAT, he had no tournament experience and no ranking during his sophomore year of High School yet within 3 short years his national rankings skyrocketed to the top 400 and it earned him a D2 scholarship.
Since graduating from HAT Academy in 2015, Trace has returned several times to help the next generation of tennis students by sharing his life experiences with them. When he joined HAT as an 8th grader he was fighting to overcome health issues that were standing in the way of his becoming the player he aspired to be; with sheer perseverance he successfully fought his way up. He now returns as an inspirational role model.
Zoe gives back to the HAT community by always taking time off from her busy schedule to either write inspirational emails or to engage in phone conversations or to participate in online town halls patiently responding to questions from anxious parents and eager players. Zoe enrolled in HAT’s visitor program in 2009 when she was still in High School but with the dream of playing at the University of Southern California. Her outstanding play earned her a full scholarship to USC and she went on to play #1 singles during her 4 years at college.