Andrew Bradford: Growth through Community

bradford_webSenior Andrew Bradford has been playing sports for as long as he can remember. He likes staying active and involved. When he came to UNCG, he was naturally drawn to Campus Recreation.

“Coming out of high school – I played sports year-round all four years so I had to replace that with something.”

He got involved with intramural sports his freshman year, and has played on basketball, volleyball, soccer, and dodgeball teams. He started working as an official and then worked his way to Program Assistant for Intramural and Club Sports. He also became a member of the Student Leadership Team for Campus Recreation. Here he met a much more diverse group of people than he knew from his small home town.

“It had been instilled in me early on that you get out what you put in, and so taking the extra efforts to get to know these people or join those groups, to make these connections – it does more than look good on a resume. You get to know people and build relationships with them. It creates a more lasting experience – a more meaningful experience if you can spend it with these people that you enjoy being around instead of just going to class then going back to your dorm room.”

“I was lucky enough to be selected as a Guarantee Scholar out of high school. Being a part of that program and actively involved in Campus Recreation I got to interact with people who came from backgrounds I was completely unfamiliar with. It just helps if you take the time to dedicate to the connections to the people that you meet here – you can really uncover some interesting things about people. It really shows how UNCG is a big melting pot, and people of every nationality come together because of our similar interests.”

Learning about a wider world has been a turning point for Andrew. His hometown of Murphy has a population of around 1,600. “I didn’t know what all was out there that could be had – and now I see it and understand the work that has to be put in if you want to accomplish big things. Being at UNCG has definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities that are out there, and I owe that mainly to my involvement in Guarantee and Campus Rec.”

Bradford (right) and friends

Andrew admits he didn’t know much about UNCG when he chose it – he didn’t think the school was particularly special, and only knew he’d be with great friends from his high school. Now, though, he feels, “There’s really a lot to like. The faculty and staff here and the community around it, with it not being a really big school – and it may be because we’re closer to the south – but from my perspective it feels as if they really take the time to get to know you. This is speaking from experiences with past professors, campus employers and people within Campus Rec community. They really put forth the effort to try to figure out who you are and in what environments you work best, how to help you out and help you succeed. The diversity, too – just the wealth of backgrounds and stories you’ll hear from the friends that you’ll make makes this place special.”

Andrew wishes he could go back and tell kids at his old high school some things about college life – things he wishes he knew before coming in. What are some of the big lessons?

“There’s all of this emphasis on graduating college – you go to college to graduate. But if instead of being a ‘box-checker’ – assignment wise, in class – really take the time to look through how your program has everything structured to see why I’m doing this – how is this going to translate into my career skills. Really take the time to see how these chapters move you towards what you want to do. Also, don’t get discouraged by failures – focus on the small wins. Even 1% improvement is still improvement.”