Feb. 17, 2011
Throughout the year, Georgia Tech's student-athlete advisory board receives many community service requests, many of which they eagerly fill. There are some projects that they are committed to year after year, such as our annual Michael Isenhour Toy Drive and the Georgia Winter Special Olympics, and then there are plenty of one-time requests that they take on each year. At the end of the year, they have quite the list of service projects that they've been a part of on some level.
On occasion, however, stories surface of student-athlete service involvement that have up to that point, largely fallen under the radar of the Athletics Department. Because of the modest nature of many of our student-athletes (all across the ACC), this is no surprise. Opportunities come along for student-athletes to make a difference in the lives of others in the community, and more often than not, they choose to get involved regardless of any publicity or recognition. Many Georgia Tech student-athletes recognize that they would not be where they are today without the help of others along the way. This awareness helps fuel their desires to give back and get involved in the lives of others that they may be able to help and encourage.
Earlier this semester, one such story surfaced. As thoughts were going into who, if anyone, is deserving enough to be nominated for the Lowe's Senior Class Award for softball, Kristine Priebe's name surfaced, thanks to her decorated athletic career. As those responsible for her nomination dug a little deeper, it came to light that not only is Kristine a faithful volunteer at the athletic-department wide service projects, but she has also taken full advantage of her own set up circumstances to help others who might be facing similar challenges that she has faced her whole life.
Kristine was tested and diagnosed with Learning Disabled/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (LD/ADHD) her freshman year in college at the University of Florida. "Sometimes you don't recognize that you have a learning disability until you get to college because the level of academics is so high," she explains. "I've finally gotten a hold of things. It took me a while to adjust but now I can share the things that I went through with kids".
She is referring to a project that she has gotten involved with here at Georgia Tech. After spending two enjoyable and successful years at University of Florida, she transferred to Tech because of the career path she had chosen for herself (Public Policy). Luckily for Georgia Tech, the academic curriculum she would need to pursue her passions was not available at Florida.
Due to the accommodations she receives here at Georgia Tech through the ADAPTS Disability Services Programs, she was pinned as someone who might be interested in becoming involved with Project Eye-To-Eye, which is overseen by this department (ADAPTS). The Georgia Tech chapter of Project Eye-To-Eye is one of 30 located around the country. It was originally founded in 1998 by a group of Brown University students who were labeled LC/ADHD, just like Kristine. They began working with local elementary school students who were dealing with similar difficulties, ultimately helping to develop self-esteem and a positive self-image. Their goal was to show that even with the disabilities that they have, they can still be successful and go on to college just like their classmates.
Every Monday, Kristine pays a visit to students at Kennedy Middle School, here in downtown Atlanta, and works with a group of 7th grade boys. Each week, they do an art project which facilitates discussions relating to self-esteem and life skills. They are trying to teach them to be independent and have academic success despite their obstacles. While 7th grade boys can be a challenging group to work with, Kristine has found that her success as a Division I student-athlete, despite her own disabilities, has helped establish a level of trust and respect. "Every week, it gets easier. It's really cool seeing them opening up", says Kristine.
Kristine has been so moved by the impact she is able to have because of being a successful student and athlete at Georgia Tech that she has decided to take on a bigger role within the Georgia Tech chapter of Project Eye-to-Eye. This semester she has taken on a leadership position and is working toward getting others, athletes and non-athletes, involved in the program. "For them to see somebody going to Georgia Tech and having great success gives them a lot of hope. They look up to us".
Kristine's selfless desires to help others, outside of the athletic department wide service projects that she already pitches in with, along with her drive for personal success is what distinguishes her from others and what will ultimately pave her path for whatever she chooses to do with her life.