To highlight a week of honor at the University of Mary Washington, the school reached out to Olympic swimmer Jeff Rouse to remind us all about integrity, honor and the role that people play as role models.
Rouse is a native of Fredericksburg and president of the Rappahannock Economic Development Center.
“For me and the rest of the Council, Honor Week is a exciting opportunity to try and reach students on a more personal level. It is a chance for us to come together as a community and celebrate the core values that are unique to our University,” said Alice O’Brien, president of the student honor council.
She spoke about what honor means to the UMW community, as well as what it means to her.
“For us here at UMW, honor is a way of life. It means that we act with integrity and encourage others to do so too, both inside and outside of the classroom. We work hard and complete our own work, and strive to uphold the standards that are founded in our tradition of honor even when faced with adversity,” said O’Brien.
The Student Honor Council and faculty worked to make the week a success by planning music, food and activities. The events were met with a positive response by both students and faculty.
Wednesday night, a concert took place on Ball Circle, due to Neil Tibert, associate professor in earth and environmental science, and Keith Mellinger’s, chair and associate professor of mathematics, musical abilities providing the entertainment.
The highlight of the week was the guest speaker, Stafford’s own Jeff Rouse.
The Olympic gold medalist, International Swimming Hall of Famer and four-time US champion spoke to students in the Great Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 3, about his life, his dedication and his steadfast resolve to compete honorably for himself and his nation.
He casually joked about his childhood and rise to prominence, and, due to the crowd’s prodding, he spoke about the Olympics and the perks that come with being an Olympian.
However, he took a more somber tone when discussing honor.
A long-time proponent of drug testing, he formed a coalition to enforce drug restrictions after seeing the Chinese women’s gymnastic team “blow everybody out of the water” in the early 1990s.
“It was obvious there was something wrong,” said Rouse.
He noted the use of steroids and human growth hormones (HGH) to get an edge in professional sports, as well as the temptation many athletes have at the highest level to outperform the competition.
Although he spent his last four years of professional swimming on a plateau, he did not consider using any enhancers.
“I could not understand how somebody could do that,” was his response to the question.
His conclusion reminded all that everyone is a role model.
“We are all role models,” said Rouse. “You are ethical.”
While Honor Week is a few days a year, but UMW prides itself on honor all year long. Honor is not just a way of life, but it is the way of life here at UMW.