Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Acts of Kindness

Oakland athlete pursues Peace Corps mission

Travis Harrington in his graduation cap and gown


icon of a calendarNovember 20, 2019

icon of a pencilBy Derek Blalock

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Travis Harrington, CAS ’19, is the type of person who is always lending a hand. 

On an icy morning in mid-January, Becky Weber, the coordinator of external relations for Oakland Athletics, was struggling to get inside the Athletics Center O’Rena. Harrington, a forward on the Oakland University Men’s Soccer team, ran to her aid and guided Weber all the way into her office. 

For Oakland Men’s Soccer coach Eric Pogue, this small act of kindness perfectly exemplifies who Harrington is. “I was sitting in my office before training when Becky came in and told me the story,’” he explains. “That was a moment that really meant a lot to me, and I’ll remember that story way more than anything else because even though we want to win games and championships, more importantly we’re here to mentor young men to go out and impact the world.”

There was little surprise, then, when Harrington made the decision to forego an additional year of eligibility to pursue a two-year mission with the Peace Corps in Togo – a country in West Africa between Ghana, Benin and Nigeria.

“I always knew I wanted to help people, I just wasn’t sure in what capacity,” says Harrington. “I took a leap of faith and was blessed to receive the opportunity.”

Despite appearing in 47 games for the Golden Grizzlies in the last three years, including finishing fourth on the team in points this past fall, Harrington came to the realization that his soccer career was nearing an end when he wanted to pursue a master’s degree in social work, something he hopes can benefit from this experience in Togo. 

Off the field, Harrington has been highly decorated within the Athletics Department for his compassion and willingness to help others, finishing runner-up in Oakland Laura Robinson Kuznair Memorial Student Award given to students exhibiting compassion and dedication to helping people and promoting a more just and fair society. 

“Coach Pogue helped shaped my integrity as a person,” Harrington says. “With him, it wasn’t always about success on the field. He focused on how we develop ourselves as men and how we integrate ourselves in the community. Whether we go professional or not, it was all about making sure he nurtured us and gave us the right attitude on and off the field.”

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