Nov. 10, 2008
On the football field, Rice junior safety Andrew Sendejo is charged with calling the signals that set in motion the various coverages and blitzes that the Owls will use on any given play. In the wide-open era of offensive football, his decisions must come quickly and offer little room for error.
Away from the field, Sendejo balances his work in the classroom (Academic All District VI last year and a candidate again in 2008) with a leadership role that is less intense in the immediacy of its demands, but carries far greater impact on a much larger scale.
The junior from Canyon Lake serves as a Peer Academic Advisor and has been heavily involved in all of the Owls' efforts to reach out to area students. He serves as a tour guide for schools when they visit the Rice campus and can always be counted on to answer the call when it comes time to visit one of the schools near campus.
"It always feels great to go to a school and spend time with the kids," Sendejo said. "They are amazing and you always come back with a great story about something they asked you. They might not know who I am personally, but they get so excited to talk to a college football player. They want to know if I ever tackled Vince Young or Reggie Bush.
"They look up to us. It might be a cliché, but it does feel good to give something back and talk to them about what it means to work hard and to make going to college a real goal for them," he noted.
Just two years removed from his first days on campus, Sendejo still values the role that his peer advisor (Bencil Smith) played in helping him adjust to the rigors of being a student-athlete at Rice, and now he tries to do the same for the next generation of Owls.
"Bencil is a good guy and a natural leader. He was a tremendous help to me when I first came to Rice, and he showed me how important it was to step up and help your new teammates," Sendejo noted.
As if his life was not busy enough already, Sendejo has also begun to lay the foundation for his entry into the business world after completing his career at Rice.
He is one of 160 college students who have been selected for the Management Leadership for Tomorrow program, a national non-profit that develops the next generation of African American, Hispanic and Native American leaders in the business world.
"The goal is to prepare minority candidates for leadership roles in the corporate world," Sendejo said. "It was a lot of extra work in the middle of a school year, but it's something that can really pay off in the long run," he added.
As someone who tackles leadership with the same focus and determination as he does opponents, Andrew Sendejo is on course to be one of Tomorrow's Leaders.