A Graduation Reflection


In enjoying these warm summer days, it’s hard to believe that it’s already been over a month since Commencement 2017 occurred. Graduation is a thought-provoking time in many ways, not just for the students, but for myself and the staff, as well.

While our graduating student-athletes reflect on their overall Wake Forest experiences and look towards the future to determine what the next step in each of their journeys will be, we are also pondering the past and future, just with a slightly different lens.

At the Deacon Club, graduation allows us to reminisce about all of the success the graduating class has achieved, both on and off the field, all while looking ahead, not only to determine how to continue Developing Champions and supporting future student-athletes, but also how we will properly engage each graduating class to keep them connected with the Athletic Department and the University as they transition to members of Varsity Club.

As these thoughts transpire, however, it is imperative that we don’t lose sight of the achievements of each individual that comprises the class as a whole. The Class of 2017, for example, consisted of 82 student-athletes, each of whom took a different path to get to Wake Forest and has their own story to tell about their experience.

It is so easy to get caught up in measuring success solely via wins and losses, but our purpose is so much greater than that. We strive to educate our student-athletes and create successful leaders who will excel in all of their future endeavors, while carrying on the Pro Humanitate spirit.

It’s almost unfathomable how many of our student-athletes achieve success across the board throughout their time at Wake Forest. Two recent graduates that immediately come to mind are Luisa Fernandez and Ryan Janvion.

Aside from their athletic achievements, Luisa and Ryan were very active on campus and in the community, in addition to succeeding academically. Both were heavily involved with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and were each named to the All-ACC Academic Team at least once. In addition, they have each been recognized with numerous awards and nominations related to their combined efforts academically, athletically and through serving the community.

Luisa was the recipient of the 2016 ITA Carolina Region Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award, as well as a 2017 Weaver-James-Corrigan Postgraduate Scholarship. As a member of the women’s tennis team, Luisa and her teammates were also recognized as 2016-17 ACC Game Changers for their work with H.O.P.E. (Help Our People Eat), where Luisa helped translate the entire app into Spanish.

Ryan was the recipient of the 2016 Jim Tatum Award and was the first Wake Forest player to be named a National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete. He was also one of 12 finalists for the Campell Trophy, one of 30 semifinalists for the Senior CLASS Award and a nominee for the Wuerffel Trophy.

While these are just two examples, all of our student-athletes are truly amazing in a multitude of ways. As Wake Forest student-athletes, these young men and women sacrifice a lot to be able to receive a degree from one of the nation’s top academic institutions, while competing at the highest level in the ACC.

As we officially send the Class of 2017 out into the world, and prepare to welcome the Class of 2021, I want to express my sincere appreciation for your support of the Deacon Club. Without you, we would be unable to provide the necessary resources to support these deserving student-athletes.

To the Class of 2017 – congratulations on this wonderful accomplishment! Thank you for representing us so well and contributing to the great tradition of Wake Forest Athletics. I look forward to staying connected and wish you the best of luck as you begin your next chapter.

Go Deacs!

(Note: This article was originally published in the June 2017 issue of Gold Rush.)