March 20, 2007
When David Berken accepted the invitation to join the Rice Student Athlete Advisory Committee, he knew first-hand the challenge of the committee to motivate student athletes to become active members of the campus community.
"My first couple of years at Rice I was busy, but not very active. I didn't really know if I had a place in voicing an opinion or being a part of anything," Berken said. "But this past year, I found myself wanting to become involved in more things and help strengthen the relationship between athletics and academics The goal of SAAC is to build bridges between the athletes and students, so it was perfect timing for me." he noted.
Berken jumped right into the mix, becoming a peer academic advisor to the incoming freshmen football players in addition to his work on the SAAC. It proved to be the ideal time to reach out to both athletes and students.
The concept of a supportive and interested student body was a familiar one to Berken, who graduated from Notre Dame HS in Crowley, LA. "Athletics was such a focal point in my high school. I went from a place where a large percentage of the students were either participating in some kind of athletics or supporting the teams to a place where that was not the case. But we are working on changing that," he added.
"I think there was a period of time when a lot of athletes did not feel like they were a part of the system, but it goes both ways," Berken stated. "You have to participate in your college. A great example of how to change that has been DeJaun Cooper....everyone on campus pretty much knows who he is and that's because he made an effort to get involved in his college. I have made a lot of friends at my college and will look up and see them in the stands.
"The size of Rice allows you to see those kinds of results," Berkent noted. "You do see a lot of the same people over and over when you allow yourself to get involved."
This spring Berken faces the challenge impressing a new coaching staff on the practice field, but he knows that his campus involvement is something the staff values highly.
"Coach (David) Bailiff will go into the cafeteria to meet students, but he does so much more than that. Those students who have met him say they feel he really makes an effort to listen to them. . They tell me they feel like he's genuine and they appreciate the effort he is making," Berken said.
It's an effort that David Berken will continue to support now and in the future as one of Tomorrow's Leaders.