Note: The following appears in the NC State football gameday program.
Too many young people endure their college experience instead of enjoying it. With the demands on a student-athlete’s time and the pressures to be great at every turn, it is easy to fall victim to the college experience becoming a check-the-box obligation for a well-paying job.
College should be a unique privilege to grow, discover, have fun and win for a lifetime. Thus, for Clemson’s football scholar-athletes, P.A.W. Journey’s purpose is to prevent them from falling victim to this challenge by equipping them to make the most of their college experience.
“College: Where the Tigers Play” is both an ode to dear old Clemson, referencing our alma mater and how integral athletics are to its uncommon culture, as well as a mentality about the best way to approach your college experience.
One of the originators of this theme, Ruke Orhorhoro, a P.A.W. Journey ambassador who has interned with Adobe, Pepsi and Synnex, defined it this way.
“Finding joy in the little moments…it’s important to stop and smell the roses in the midst of our busy schedules as football scholar-athletes.”
This “stopping and smelling the roses” mindset is the embodiment of P.A.W. Journey, where humanity is the first organizational value, and the staff are diligent about the young men they serve. It is important to not become so consumed with the physical health needed for achievement in football that they neglect the mental and emotional health needed for excellence in their daily lives.
P.A.W. Journey launched “College” in July at its annual player symposium. It is an initiative that aims to unify and inspire the entire team through discourse and discovery about a relevant concept pertaining to their holistic development.
Clemson football alumni, like 2012 ACC Player-of-the-Year and current Tiger staff member Tajh Boyd, are invited to pour into the young men with wisdom from their experiences as scholar-athletes, professionals and men.
“Everyone involved was able to take something from this that would elevate their lives in a multitude of ways,” explained Boyd. “It is very engaging and puts athletes in situations to unburden themselves.”
College is not meant to be a burden, it is meant to lead to personal and professional elevation. During this season and beyond, P.A.W. Journey encourages those it serves to internalize this understanding as they embark on their journeys.
Beaux Collins knows exactly what it means to elevate his life through P.A.W. Journey.
“Utilizing P.A.W. Journey is one of my greatest investments. They have all the doors there for us…we just have to walk through them.”
Collins has already begun walking through those doors by becoming a P.A.W. Journey ambassador, volunteering for community service and earning a microinternship with the NFL.
This is the vision of P.A.W. Journey for all of Clemson football’s young leaders…instead of being overwhelmed by the quantity of doors or opportunities available to them, they see the number of doors available as an indication of the college experience that is within their reach.
“‘College’ reminds me to have fun with my brothers and enjoy these moments,” added Jake Briningstool. “The ‘College’ theme inspires me to maximize my opportunities and do everything I can while I am here.”
“Play” in the “College” theme is not meant to only highlight the fun in playing football, it is meant to remind scholar-athletes like Briningstool, who has put in the work through a microinternship with Elliott Realty in North Myrtle Beach, attendance at summer golf lessons and service in the Clemson community, to have fun in life doing what matters with the people who matter.
To find enjoyment in where you are and where you are headed, and to seamlessly transition into the world ready to continue seeking that fulfillment…that is “College.”
That is the P.A.W. Journey.