A local college student is out to change the world and judging by his collegiate accomplishments thus far, he’s off to a great start.
Scott Andrews, 21 years old and a junior at University of Rhode Island, believes an individual can combine political ideals and take action to transform their communities at the same time.
It’s because of this belief that Andrews was recently chosen by the Campus Compact as one of 135 men-of-action for its first group of Newman Civic Fellows who come from 30 states.
The award is named after the late Frank Newman, University of Rhode Island President from 1974-1983 and founder of the Campus Compact. Newman dedicated his life to creating systematic change through education reform.
Andrews, a 2008 graduate of North Kingstown High School, was a student at the University of Miami majoring in business before transferring to URI.
“I didn’t know my passion so I didn’t care what I majored in,” Andrews said. “I just wanted to make money.”
He said the University of Miami was an amazing campus where he sat by the pool everyday between classes, but he knew he was meant to do much more than that and he believed he was wasting time.
Later, while in class, he recalled the professor lecturing about people in business and survival of the fittest. The professor went on to talk about corporate greed, where some millionaires take advantage of others.
“It was an eye-opening moment for me,” he said. “I want to go into business but not to take advantage of anyone.”
At about the same time, Andrews had the opportunity to see President Barack Obama speak at the campus in Miami.
“Obama said something that really hit home,” he recalled. “Obama said focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition.”
The President asked citizens to believe in their own abilities to change the world and leave it better for the next generation, telling the crowd “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
“I remember sitting really high up in the balcony, nose-bleed seats and when I heard him speak, I felt overwhelmed and inspired,” said Andrews. “His optimism made you want to do something yourself and not wait for others to do it.”
When Andrews heard those words, he knew what he needed to do.
He finished the semester then transferred to URI because he knew he wanted to change the way people see being involved in their communities.
“You can take your passion and be a force in the community and for me, coming back to North Kingstown was the right thing. I wanted to give back to the community that gave me so much.”
Since enrolling at URI, Andrews has become an active member of community service groups including Habitat for Humanity, URI SAVES (Students Actively Volunteering and Engaging in Service) and Student United Way.
His volunteering doesn’t end there however. Last summer he worked with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s Providence office. A three-week volunteer opportunity became a year-long internship.
“The people I’ve worked with in Whitehouse’s office have been great,” Andrews said. “They have helped me in every way possible to achieve my goals.”
For the past year, the URI student has also been a volunteer with the Obama for America Organization, which empowers individuals to build a grassroots movement to better their communities.
In appreciation of his efforts, Andrews had the rare and awesome opportunity to meet Obama during his visit to Rode Island last fall.
Last year, he became involved in an honors class called Classroom Without Borders, which focuses on issues of poverty, homelessness, hunger and the Civil Rights Movement. During spring break, the class traveled to Birmingham, Alabama to work with Habitat for Humanity for a week.
This year, he spent his spring break in New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity.
“These experiences have taught me that people who want to be in politics and do good for their community can indeed do both,” he said.
A typical day for this student means getting up early and going to bed late with many meetings, classes and new experiences in between.
Every day is unique to a point with its challenges. Andrews admits it all takes careful planning on his part, but he’s fulfilling his dream and his focus and drive are unshakeable as is his desire to get as many involved realizing their dreams as well.
“When I’ve gone into classes to speak to other students, they sometimes question what they can do to bring about change as students,” Andrews said, “but once I start telling them my experiences and ask them questions about how they want to achieve their own dreams, you see their eyes open and they get excited.”
The most important message he wants to convey to his peers is that college can be a time to align goals with career aspirations.
The most valuable lesson Andrews has learned through his experiences thus far is the fact that people need to take ownership of their lives.
“We need to become who we want to be now, this is the moment,” he said. “I wasn’t the person I wanted to be when I was out in Miami, but I am now.”
Andrew has since switched his major to political science with minors in business and leadership studies.
When the now youthful student is old and gray, he hopes to be remembered as someone who improved the quality of lives for people and inspired them to be a part of their community.
“This is the right decision,” he said. “URI is the place for me.”