Jan. 30, 2009
Hauling trash to make way for breeding turtles is not exactly the first response you might expect from a college student when asked about their Spring Break plans. But Victor Brooks not only had that in mind, he spent all of his free time making sure that it would happen.
Brooks, a senior defensive end for the Owls, applied to be a team leader for the Rice Alternative Spring Break program in 2008. The program organizes Rice students and faculty to travel to different part of the country for service projects. Brooks presented a project that would take his group to the beaches of South Florida, but with the intent of tossing trash instead of Frisbees.
"I had heard about the Alternative Spring Break program from some friends, and I told myself that if all I usually did was go home and sit around for a week, it made more sense to go out and do something. I had read about the need to clean beach area in Florida to prepare for the turtles nesting season, so I wrote up a proposal and it was accepted," Brooks recalled.
Brooks planned the entire trip, located the housing, developed a budget and oversaw the groups fundraising efforts to reach their needed goal to make the trip happen. "We were at Reliant Stadium, parking cars and we sold cookies--a lot of cookies--at the colleges. It all came together pretty well and we were ready to go," he added.
Given that Brooks was also on pace to graduate from Rice in four years while also playing football, it would be easy to ask where he had the time to take on such an added project. But Brooks says the first lesson he learned when he stepped on to the Rice campus in 2005 was that anything was possible, if you learned to make time.
"If something is important to you, then you find a way to make the time," Brooks stated. "Having other things to work on besides school and football actually kept me fresh. The demands of both can burn you out if you let it. Doing something like Alternative Spring Break never felt like work," he added.
Brooks has found new projects to fill that need in his final semester at Rice Each Wednesday, he spends the afternoon at Cunningham Elementary School, tutoring students as well as working with them on character building exercises.
He also is preparing for his days in law school as a member of the Rice Mock Trial Club, taking on various roles in the trial process in competitions with clubs from other schools. He plans to take a year off before applying to law schools, and has applied for an internship in Washington D.C. that will provide him hands-on experience in addition to paralegal training.
"I have nothing but good memories from my time here at Rice," he said. "I am a completely different person than I was when I first arrived. That person was someone who really had not been tested. When you get here, everyone was the best student at their school, and you definitely are challenged. It's a real dose of humble pie. But it's good to go through something like that," Brooks stated.
As someone who meets the challenges before him, and then looks for new ones as well, Victor Brooks is one of Tomorrow's Leaders.