By Eric Fergason
The 2014 SALT Center Family Weekend Celebration & Awards Ceremony saw the first recipients of the Michelle Combs Award. The award was created to commemorate the life of Michelle Combs, a UA student who used SALT Center services. Michelle lost her life during her sophomore year. Her family and friends established this award and an endowment in her honor. The award is given to students who exhibit her adventurous, energetic, and goal-oriented characteristics (to read more about the Michelle Combs Award, click here).
I had the opportunity to meet with one of the SALT Center’s first Michelle Combs Award recipients, Christian Brown. Finding a little time between classes, Christian and I sat down near the Student Union. Even with his full bags and hurried demeanor, he seemed comfortable with the hustle.
I asked Christian to tell me a little more about himself, and he had plenty to share - after several changes to his major, Christian found his way into Systems Engineering, and has just one year left before graduating. He is a member of the Society Civil Engineers, and a Webmaster for the University of Arizona Flying Club. He has interned for the Kiewit Corporation. He is a volunteer at Wright Flight, a non-profit that exposes kids to aviation, and a volunteer at Habitat for Humanity. When he finds himself back home in Hawaii, he and his father volunteer at their church. With all of these activities, he still finds time to give words of wisdom to his sister about college life.
Between his academic pursuits, multiple volunteer efforts, club events, and dedication to his family, Christian says he hardly has any time left over for socializing: “My biggest challenge is to find down time. Between school and volunteer obligations, I don't find much time to spend with friends.” Upon further reflection, he added, “But I do find that the volunteer time fulfilling. It is social, and allows me to connect with different people, make more friends, and it definitely helps me network.”
When asked about being nominated for the Michelle Combs Award, Christian described its immediate impact: “Digging into the award, and who Michelle was, was heart breaking…that was me, she was around my age when she died.” He recognized with modesty that his involvements in his community reflect Michelle’s drive: “We (all of the nominees) are deserving of the award, but I guess they saw more in me and saw more of the essence of Michelle in me…the legacy of this award was that you live your life to the fullest.”
I think its safe to say Christian is doing just that - we wish him the best in his endeavors, and we are proud to call him a recipient of the Michelle Combs Award.