Note: The following appears in the Duke gameday football program
A calling is typically a powerful motivator in life, often serving as the primary catalyst for a path that one chooses to follow in life. Whether it be innate, learned or rooted in sheer, inexplicable destiny, that calling can grow and flourish if embraced, paving the way for a truly impactful life.
As for Savannah Bailey in 2017, she opted to answer her calling by accepting a position as a leader and change agent with Tiger football’s P.A.W. Journey program.
Currently in her second year as the director of life skills and community service for the groundbreaking player development program known as P.A.W. Journey, Bailey is living out her destiny of serving as an educator and mentor, inspiring young adults to make the most of their lives. In this particular case, the young adults are members of the Clemson football team, whom Bailey offers guidance to through the C.U. in Life pillar of P.A.W. Journey.
“I help the players articulate the transferable skills of football into their everyday lives. Connecting their experience to how they are able to serve others is my primary focus.”
A native of Columbia, Tenn., Bailey attended Tennessee, where she received a bachelor’s degree in microbiology. While she enjoyed her undergraduate educational pursuits, her passions outside the realm of academics is what inspired her most of all. After her undergraduate involvement in orientation, housing, student government and Greek life, she opted to pursue a master’s degree in student affairs at Clemson.
“I cared a lot about the college student experience, as a first-generation student myself. Whatever I could do to help others while they’re in their most important developmental time is what I was preparing to do.”
She began her Clemson journey in the summer of 2016, as a student and graduate assistant for fraternity & sorority membership development. It was a summer job involving Clemson’s youth football camps, however, that set the stage for her P.A.W. Journey tenure. She made such a positive impact by way of her hard work at the camps that P.A.W. Journey visionary Jeff Davis offered her the opportunity of heading C.U. in Life.
Bailey has a bevy of responsibilities through her position, which all center upon enriching the life skills and civic engagement of Tiger football players. Her primary duties include community service projects and preparing classes and lectures dedicated to teaching the players’ life skills, including financial literacy and public speaking. However, those obligations are small portions of a much larger role that Bailey plays in the lives of the young men whom she counsels on a daily basis.
“Seeing the human side of the players is my favorite thing about my job, and that relates to my main goal within P.A.W. Journey. I want to show the public that these players are incredible people with feelings, personalities and goals.”
More than just an advisor, Bailey is a mentor for the young men who make up the Clemson football roster. She utilizes her passion for student-athlete development to help the players fulfill their dreams and continue to use their influence to positively impact others. In addition to putting together events for the players to partake in, she establishes close connections with the players by regularly holding one-on-one meetings for the purposes of de-stressing and offering life advice.
Operating under the mindset that it is best not to wait until after football is finished to begin preparing for what is to come, Bailey has the players’ best interests at heart in everything she does as a part of P.A.W. Journey. A shining example of a selfless leader with a passion for making a positive impact on others, she is transforming the lives of the promising young men who represent Clemson on the gridiron. Each step of the way, she is undoubtedly fulfilling her destiny and answering her ultimate calling.