Giving back: Commodores in the community

Andrew East

Jan. 2, 2013

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Despite their demanding schedules, many Vanderbilts student-athletes find time to give back to their communities. Below are but four examples of such exemplary work....


AndrewEastMugThe son of a construction consultant, sophomore Andrew East may have been destined to major in civil engineering. The Indiana native has made two trips to Mexico as part of Youth With A Mission, helping build houses for impoverished families in Tijuana and Ensenada. The Commodores' long snapper is also an eagle scout, a rank he attained in part because of his service through the Wheeler Mission in his hometown of Indianapolis.

East also has taken time to work with Seven Bridges to Recovery, an organization in metro Atlanta that battles homelessness, addiction and abuse.

"I want my life to be more than football, more than school and more than a career. I want to leave a legacy that is more about what I've done for others. I've found that when you give, you find yourself receiving more than you could ever have imagined."


KateGoldinMugWhen senior Kate Goldin graduates this spring with a double-major in biological sciences and Spanish, expect the former defensive midfielder to be ready to tackle either field. Instead of merely doing traditional second-language acquisition tasks, Goldin has worked with Vanderbilt professor Elena Olazagasti-Segovia for the past two years, teaching English to Spanish-speaking adults and children across Middle Tennessee.

Additionally, Goldin has found time to volunteer at a local pet adoption center and to help coach a pair of youth soccer teams in the area.

"Helping young kids and their families learn English has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life," Goldin said. "The families have always accepted me into their homes with open arms and treated me like a part of the family. I hope I am able to stay involved in the community in the future."


ConnorHarrellActionConnor Harrell is one of only four seniors on Tim Corbin's 2013 roster. The leadership skills he has learned on the baseball diamond have translated well into his work throughout the community. A Monroe Carell Jr. Scholarship recipient, Harrell is an active member of Vanderbilt's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

The Houston, Texas native has served as a youth mentor with Young Life--a national ministry for high school kids--at Nashville's Franklin Road Academy for the past two years with teammate Keenan Kolinsky and football's Jordan Rodgers.

"I was in Young Life in high school, and it became a pretty big part of my life during that time," Harrell said. "[Here it] gives us an opportunity to use our platform as Vanderbilt athletes to have an impact on kids in a way that we are passionate about."


GabbySmithActionFriday is the only day of the week when senior Gabby Smith does not have an 8 a.m. class on her busy schedule. But instead of sleeping in, the Cincinnati native chooses to give back by volunteering at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

For the past year, Smith has spent time going around to the hospital's waiting areas with a cart loaded full of board games, coloring books, crayons and construction paper. Volunteers like Smith help to lessen a child's stress and anxiety while he or she passes the time before an appointment.

"I think saying, `I don't have enough time,' is the easy way out," Smith said. "[That] is kind of selling yourself short. Everyone has time for whatever they want to do, you just have to make it."

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