Chris Freeburg receives Kolvenbach Award

by Carolyn Linck, '11

SANTA CLARA, CALIF. - Graduated senior Chris Freeburg (CF) pursued many passions while at SCU – working for sustainability, going on immersion trips and rowing for the Broncos, all while excelling academically.  Recently, www.SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB) caught up with Freeburg about receiving the Kolvenbach Award, his post-graduation plans and his overall Santa Clara experience.

SCB: You were awarded the Peter-Hans Kolvenbach S.J. Award – an award given to students who "exemplify the ideals of Jesuit education especially being a whole person of solidarity in the real world".  What does receiving this honor mean to you, and why do you think President Engh selected you as the recipient?

CF: I was surprised and elated when Fr. Engh first shared the good news with me – that I had received the Kolvenbach Award. The joy only grew in the days leading up to graduation.  It has been a real blessing to celebrate the accomplishments of my friends and classmates at the same time.  Receiving this award has been a humbling experience, because we have such a great community here at SCU, and I know so many students who were deserving of this honor.  While I feel this award is partly an affirmation of the work I have already done, in many ways I feel it is also a commission to continue to live up to the Jesuit values invoked by Fr. Kolvenbach.  As I graduate I feel a deeper sense of responsibility to live up to the ideals that have been instilled in me at Santa Clara.

SCB: You were committed to the cause of making SCU a water bottle free campus.  Why are you so passionate about this issue?

CF: I love being outside – hiking, climbing, fishing, camping, biking, rowing, running, rafting.  If it's an outdoor activity, I'm sure I enjoy it!  During my experiences outdoors and lessons in the classroom I have witnessed the damaging impact our lifestyle can have on the environment.  I don't think our way of life is sustainable, and I worry about the consequences we will suffer in the future if we do not make changes to our resource consumption, environmental footprint and societal awareness of our relationship with the planet we live on.  Why this issue on this campus?  Mainly because it's so feasible.  Gonzaga and Seattle University, two of our sister Jesuit Universities, have already made major commitments to bottled water reductions, and I think that all the pieces are in place at Santa Clara to do the same.  With the University's commitment, the work of the Office of Sustainability and the general community awareness on campus, there is no reason Santa Clara cannot go bottled water free.

SCB: As a member of the University Honors Program and Varsity Men's Crew Team, how were you able to effectively balance your time between academics and athletics? What was the most challenging aspect of this?

CF: I think balance is something every student at Santa Clara is challenged to find.  Whether it is school, crew, work or relationships, there are a lot of opportunities at SCU, each requiring a significant amount of time.  The physical part of crew is a great outlet for stress and something I often rely on to help clear my mind.  I found the most important thing was making sure I had enough free time blocked off for myself. Also, while I have gotten better at finding balance over the last four years, learning to rely on and confide in my friends has also helped me weather the challenges I have faced.

SCB: Of all your accomplishments at SCU – in the classroom, on the water and working for sustainability – what are you most proud of? Why?

CF: I have been blessed with so many great experiences at Santa Clara, there are just too many to name.  Some highlights would have to be our WCC Championship race at the 2010 WIRA Championships (beating a stacked Gonzaga boat by a tenth of a second), trips to El Salvador and Guatemala and building relationships with amazing professors and students.  I could not have asked for a better experience at Santa Clara, and I'm proud of everything I was able to accomplish in my time here. 

SCB: What are your post-graduation plans?

CF: Next year I will be in the small town Ashland, Montana with Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) Northwest. Ashland is located outside of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in the southeast corner of the state.  JVC is a yearlong volunteering commitment structured around the Jesuit ideals and the four values of community, spirituality, social justice and simple living.  I think the Jesuit heritage of JVC NW will be important in my transition from the great experience I have had at Santa Clara to life after college.  I will work with middle- to high-school aged kids at a boarding school that mostly serves native children, serving as a dorm mentor and after school activity coordinator.