Penn State Women’s Rugby Player Creates a Shared Sense of Belonging
November 28, 2018
2018 Penn Mutual Life of Significance Award finalist Scout Cheeks of Penn State University has given back to her community at home and abroad throughout her time in college and post-graduation. In addition to being a Collegiate All-American and being considered for the United States national team, Cheeks has spent time bettering her community by volunteering with a myriad of causes.
As an advocate for social Justice, Cheeks has a passion for helping people of color. While at Penn State, she took part in a number of groups including Women of Color Empowerment, Blends of Traditional Heritage and Youth Empowerment program. As part of the program she helped young and underprivileged people of color by tutoring them and acting as a mentor throughout the year.
“I enjoy serving as a role model for young people of color. Building a sense of community and serving as a positive influence for the next generation of individuals is something I take great pride in,” Cheeks said.
Cheeks’ work with underprivileged youth extends beyond the borders of the United States. After receiving the federal David L. Boren Scholarship, critical language initiative that promotes long term linguistic and cultural immersion, Cheeks volunteered in her free time at an orphanage in Brazil building relationships and serving as a parent figure. Since Brazil is prominently a Portuguese speaking country, and Cheeks does not know the language, she had to figure out meaningful ways to build relationships with these individuals. Many kids were surprised at the time and attention they received from an American.
“Relationships can transcend culture and language. If you show that you truly care and are authentic in your relationships, people of different cultures and languages will respond positively to you,” Cheeks stated.
In addition to her work in Brazil, Cheeks passed on a rugby tour in Europe to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Spending her spring break in Colorado, Cheeks helped build a home that was later given to a single mother who had a child with a chronic illness.
“Seeing the expression on their faces when we were able to provide them with a home was one of the best experiences of my life,” Cheeks exclaimed. “I never doubted skipping a rugby tour to help out a family but their reaction cemented the experience.”
As a result of her commitment to community and her demonstration of the values of respect, integrity and commitment, Scout was nominated for the 2018 Penn Mutual Life of Significance Award by her Penn State rugby teammate Whitney Richter.