Oct. 8, 2009
By MOISEKAPENDA BOWER Jennifer McClean gets involved, and her level of commitment scratches well beyond the surface of whatever project she has pledged her time.
That explains why McClean, a senior outside hitter for the Rice volleyball team, gleaned so much from her experience of volunteering at a Medical Center-area soup kitchen last spring. McClean has helped build homes for the underprivileged with Habitat for Humanity and has counseled and coached girls during a camp with the Tomball Medical Center, but her face-to-face moments with the hungry still resonate.
"At the soup kitchen you're right there serving them soup, talking with them and interacting, and you actually see yourself giving back and seeing them appreciate it," McClean said. "It's just great to make contact with them."
The event was so inspiring that McClean returned with several teammates. It confirmed her belief in community service and strengthened her resolve to not just contribute, but to commit beyond the token appearance. There is a determination that influences McClean to participate beyond what is required, and she has come to embrace those opportunities when the Owls visit the surrounding community.
"We want to make a difference; we want to make an impact," McClean said. "The projects that we decide to get involved with, we just don't want to be putting our names on it. We want to be there actually making a difference and helping other people out."
McClean is equally assertive on the court. The Owls' co-captain ranks seventh in program history with 1,151 digs. She dominated the action at the USF/Asics Challenge earlier this season and earned tournament most valuable player honors, and she has provided the requisite senior leadership the Owls need as they push for a Conference USA championship and a first-round victory in the NCAA Tournament.
The time served in the community and on the court hasn't prevented McClean from excelling in the classroom, where as an economics major McClean was nominated as an Academic All-American as a sophomore and junior. She interned as a financial analysis for Halliburton, but an internship with a non-profit, The Houston Read Commission, through ExxonMobil really opened her eyes to a future occupation. Why did McClean enjoy that job so much? The human interaction sold her.
"I really enjoy numbers, but at the same time I want to be working with people," McClean said. "I know that for a job choice I want to combine the two, so I'm looking into private wealth management and consulting."
There is work remaining. While McClean is barreling toward her degree, the Owls remain in contention for a conference crown. And when the spring rolls around, another opportunity will be presented for McClean to tackle a new endeavor and positively impact those around her.
That is the path she has followed since she arrived at Rice. As a senior, McClean sees no reason to deviate from it.
"I'm the type of person that wants to have lots of different experiences, see lots of different things and see lots of different people," McClean said. "It's been pretty awesome, and I've been fortunate to live my life the way that I want to. I'm not the type of person that wants to sit at home and watch TV. Volleyball has really helped me get out there, and my internships as well. I'm really happy with my college experiences thus far."
By continuing to diversify her personal portfolio, Jennifer McClean is positioned to become one of Tomorrow's Leaders.