Story written by Curtis Schickner, a baseball player from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the America East Conference National SAAC Representative. 

The November meeting proved one thing to all of us:  the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is the voice of Division I student-athletes. Our role, mission and overall reach has grown tremendously since I joined the committee in July. The NCAA has noticed the importance of the student-athlete voice and included us in many discussions and collaborations. Our perspective as student-athletes is unique and the NCAA liaisons, conference administrators, and university leaders rely on us to provide tangible feedback on the issues that affect the student-athlete experience. From the recruiting process to the NCAA Championships, SAAC provides feedback and helps guide the NCAA towards positive changes and increased opportunities for student-athletes. During our November meeting, Dr. Mark Emmert, NCAA President, spent time with the Division I SAAC and sought feedback on the changing landscape of Division I, as well as the Presidential Working Groups that are currently transforming college athletics. There is no other group of student-athletes in the country that has a stronger voice than SAAC, and the scope of our influence seems to increase at every meeting.

In addition to serving as representatives of Division I student-athletes, DI SAAC also strives to serve the community.  During the November meeting, the committee volunteered with Samaritan's Feet. The service event humbled me in so many ways and inspired me to look into similar opportunities on my own campus. I am a firm believer that individuals must serve others before they become true leaders. I think all of us accepted this challenge and enjoyed giving back to that community and to the people who needed us most. Community service often covers a broad array of activities, but I feel that social engagement, with the people you are looking to help, gives the most positive influence to both parties. Samaritan's Feet offered this one-on-one, hands-on engagement with people in need and I strongly believe that both the community and National SAAC benefited from this event. My goal before graduation is to bring Samaritan's Feet to Baltimore and host an event with the students of University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The need for help can be found in every city, but is especially prevalent in the city of Baltimore. Our student-athletes, coaches, and administration would enjoy the opportunity and hopefully change the lives of some members in our local communities. 

Through leadership and service, Division I SAAC is making a difference. I strongly encourage every student-athlete to reach out to their team representatives and to get involved with SAAC. Whether it’s providing a unique perspective or raising an issue that affects student-athletes, your voice needs to be heard before change can occur. National SAAC will continue to support Division I student-athletes in every capacity, and we look forward to hearing any feedback or concerns that you, as student-athletes, have about your experience in Division I.  

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