Aug. 12, 2008
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Editor's Note: Each month "Commodore Nation" will ask a varsity athlete to sound off on a point of personal interest. Dufaux finished up his senior year with the tennis team, and recently made a 27-month commitment to join the Peace Corps.
Arriving on campus as a bright-eyed freshman four years ago, I came to Vanderbilt to play tennis in the SEC while studying computer science. My lifelong dream of professional tennis sat far in the distance at the end of an arduous academic schedule of classes, papers and exams. Now at the end of those four years, I've been through several changes of direction, having eventually found my most passionate interest in philosophy.
I am sitting at a crossroads that many in my situation face. I've completed my Vanderbilt tenure and have a world of possibilities open to me. I could remain in the tennis world, shipping off to Europe to compete or to an upscale country club to teach. Or I could enter the business world, scaling someone's corporate ladder and devoting my life to turning a profit. Graduate school always looms as an option, but feels more like a postponement than a real decision.
My education as a student of philosophy has greatly impacted my thinking regarding my future. The most fundamental lesson I have learned is to derive a sense of purpose from whatever course of action I choose. I will only jump into a career in which I find real redeeming value; I will never be content to sacrifice my soul to my bank account.
As I reflected on how my time and energy could best be put to use, some options were opened up and others were immediately eliminated. Rather than using the world as a means to garner my personal ends, I decided from my privileged stance that I would use myself as a means for the world's profit. Being well aware that others have not realized the same comfort and satisfaction in their lives as I have, I thought it best to use my resources to narrow that disparity.
I began to casually explore my options for how I could spend myself in a way that would help others achieve their own freedom and comfort. While backpacking through Europe last summer, I struck up conversation on board a train in Italy with a British man who did relief work for the UN in Africa. I learned how bad the situation really is with war, genocide, poverty and AIDS. Our conversation served as a catalyst to my decision to embark on a similarly altruistic course.
After hours of Web surfing and phone calls, I decided the Peace Corps would be a perfect option for me. Speaking Spanish as a second language made working in Latin America the natural decision. Although the Peace Corps' 27-month commitment was initially intimidating, I rested in the knowledge that it would be two years of enriching experience for me and those I would serve with a lifetime of reward.