Dreams and discipline

by Barron Frazier ’12

My grandfather, who graduated from The Hill in 1946, most likely had planned for my attendance at Hampden-Sydney before I was born. For most of my childhood, I looked at H-SC and promised myself that I would not attend an all-male college, especially a college that my family encouraged me to attend.

But as I matured and as my wardrobe evolved into a garnet-and-grey collection, I began to consider what I wanted out of my education. After recognizing that I wanted more than an education-a place I could call home, a place where professors knew me by my first name, and a place founded on tradition-I realized that Hampden-Sydney College fit my needs, not only for an experience, but also for an education that would undoubtedly open great opportunities in my future.

Barron Frazier
Barron Frazier ’12 (top left) with C.R. Hudgins ’46 (his grandfather, a former Trustee) and Bill Hudgins ’84 (uncle) and W. Levi Old ’46.
As I matriculated at Hampden-Sydney in 2008, I entered knowing that I wanted to become a doctor and began the pre-medicine coursework in order to prepare myself for applying to medical schools. Hampden-Sydney College remains unique in that it offers three early-acceptance programs into medical school; however, it also demands that all students digest a thorough education in the liberal arts. For the past two-and-a-half years, I have been challenged academically and inspired to do my best at all times. My professors readily volunteer to help after hours and have always taught my peers and me to focus on the retention of the material, not just on the numerical grades. When my first-semester grades came in, I was teasingly told by my grandfather that I must have paid extra money for those grades, because I never did that well in high school. A year-and-a-half later, I received the Samuel S. Jones Phi Beta Kappa Award, an honor that I never imagined would belong to me, as well as early acceptance into Eastern Virginia Medical School, a dream come true.

With a little more confidence in my academic ability, I began to apply for different research programs for the summer after my sophomore year. Twelve applications (and twelve letters of rejection) later, I reached a defining moment. I felt discouraged, but as my favorite basketball player Michael Jordan said, "Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it." Motivated to find an opportunity, I looked for an answer and later that week received information about the Fulbright Commission Summer Institute at England's Roehampton University. Interested by the program's offerings, I decided one more application could not hurt. I spent about four weeks of editing and rewriting my application; a week after my phone interview, I received a letter informing me of my admittance into the Fulbright program. Ecstatic and absolutely dumbfounded, I left for London on June 26, 2010, to begin my studies on human rights and citizenship.

For five weeks, seven other students from various parts of the United States and I analyzed the fundamentals of human rights and the differences between the U.S. and U.K. governments, while also discussing controversial subjects such as gay marriage and healthcare. Although I was biology major, H-SC's intensive liberal arts requirements prepared me for conversations that dealt with analyzing history and governments. In the classroom setting, I discovered that some of my views were inherited rather than decided for myself. As I explored the multicultural areas of London and traveled to Edinburgh and Brussels, it became very apparent that citizenship has evolved over the past few decades because of globalization.

Fifty years ago, many cultures outside our national borders seemed very foreign; yet today, mass media such as television and the Internet have familiarized our perception of different cultures and places. Country lines are becoming blurred as this new concept of a global citizen continues to develop. By the time I returned to Virginia, some of my viewpoints had changed and some were more defined, but most significantly, I returned with a greater sense of my surroundings on a global scale.

In reality, I did not stand out in high school on the athletic field or in the classroom, yet Hampden-Sydney College has provided me with a place to gain not just a degree but an education. Any student who enters these grounds with the will to work will be able to use his degree and his experience to pursue great opportunities and to achieve his potential, his goals, and his dreams. Even today, it still feels as though I am in a dream, as if the events in my life over the past three years are too good to be true.

As human beings, we all have the ability to dream, but Hampden-Sydney College gave me the discipline I needed to reach my dreams. Yes, dreams allow us to see the depth of our potential, but only with discipline can dreams develop into the great storyline of a person's pursuit of excellence.