Like many students preparing to graduate in 2021, Rashaud Colbert feels a mix of nerves and excitement. Yet for Colbert, there is always an underlying appreciation and gratitude – an attitude he’s been developing for a lifetime.
“I wasn’t always fortunate growing up; I didn’t have some of the things other kids had. From a young age, I decided I was going to seek every opportunity to make a change and be that positive light for other people,” Colbert said.
One of the most visible ways the business administration and sports management major has spread positivity on campus has been through the Clarke Association of Student Athletes. During his internship with athletic director Curt Long, Colbert was asked to consider added benefits the university could offer athletes. Colbert knew from research and his own experience as a member of the men’s basketball team that while college athletics can be a source of camaraderie, it can also add strain and stress. The Clarke Association of Student Athletes creates a space where athletes of all sports can come together.
“We’re all at the same school, and even though we play different sports, be it basketball, baseball, or whatever, we are all a family,” Colbert said. “The Clarke Association of Student Athletes allows us to speak about issues we might not feel comfortable taking elsewhere, like mental health or what goes on inside the locker room. It helps us build relationships and build each other up.”
Colbert’s positive impact on campus extends far beyond the court, though. He is a member of Campus Ministry, Investments Club, and serves as a Resident Assistant. Through his RA work, he has also developed a deeper connection with the BVM sisters thanks to the Prayer Pals program, which further opened him up to the community through Day of Peace events, working with Resources United, and more.
His enthusiasm for helping others also earned Colbert an Activism and Values Informed Education (AVIE) Clarke Compass Award and the prestigious Francis J. O’Connor Memorial Award, which is the highest honor a graduating senior can receive from Clarke University. Even with all he has done, Colbert is still looking for how he can help others.
“There was a time I was told I should be happy I was graduating college, that I should be happy I even made it as a first-generation student. Hearing that, I just wanted to set the best example I could for other kids coming in,” Colbert said. “Coming here, I’ve been surrounded by positive individuals, and I know they love me for me. Knowing I can be my true self, I walk around with a smile every day, and I just want to bring that positivity to other people.”
As he prepares for commencement, Colbert does not know exactly what the future holds. He plans to return home to Chicago, Illinois, to search for jobs and spend time with family. Even in uncertainty, his positivity persists.
“I’m anxious, I’m nervous, but mostly I’m confident. Clarke has given me a lot of wisdom and experiences,” Colbert said. “Something COVID-19 has taught me is that you can’t rush greatness. I’ve learned to take my time, trust in God, and appreciate the moment I’m in.”