While Furman alumni, students, and staff pride themselves on the strength of the Furman community, they also recognize the importance of their roles beyond Furman—in their local communities, in the nation, and in the world. Jonathan Vandenberg ’17, captain of the men’s lacrosse team, has taken that notion seriously during his time as a student-athlete at Furman.
In addition to his responsibilities as a student-athlete and leader on his team, Jonathan has made community service a priority. He is on the leadership team for Heller Service Corps and is the director of PalaTHON, a dance marathon fundraiser to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network. Jonathan says he feels led to serve because he knows that many people have not been as fortunate in their lives as he has. He adds, “My family has instilled in me the values of caring for others and realizing that you are a part of something bigger than yourself.”
That idea was never more clear to him than at the 2015 PalaTHON. During the event, Furman students were joined by patients from the Greenville Children’s Hospital and their families. Players from the men’s basketball team assisted the children in a dunk contest. Wyatt, a four-year-old boy who is bound to a wheelchair, was lifted up and dunked the basketball, receiving wild applause from the dance marathon participants. Jonathan remembers that Wyatt’s father had tears in his eyes because he never could have imagined his son being able to do something like that. “To me,” Jonathan says, “that is what makes it all worth it.”
When his time at Furman is over, Jonathan wants to continue to make an impact on the world around him. He plans to attend medical school to pursue a career in pediatrics, perhaps in an oncology specialty. No matter where he lands, though, he will always appreciate his experience at Furman and the influence it has had on his life: “The Furman experience has allowed me to form some of the best bonds and friendships with teammates, classmates, and faculty members that I will keep alive for the rest of my life. I have received a well-rounded education with the opportunity to get to know my professors on a personal level. The Heller Service Corps has provided an amazing outreach program to the local community and allowed Greenville to feel like home to me. Overall, my time at Furman has been the busiest and most fulfilling years of my life.”
Experiences like Jonathan’s are made possible by athletic scholarships provided through the Paladin Club. By supporting the Paladin Club with your annual gift, you support Furman’s playmakers in athletics, in the classroom, and in the community—and you, too, are a playmaker. Join the Paladin Club today!