Good Sports: Xzavier Killings ’16 and Alec Rotunda ’16

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Fellows to use athletics as springboard to study cultural practices around the world.

Xzavier Killings ’16 and Alec Rotunda ’16 were selected as winners of the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. This year, 152 finalists were chosen from 40 partner institutions for the national competition, and 40 fellows were named. This 48th class of Watson Fellows comes from 21 states and eight countries and will travel to 67 countries to explore a wide range of topics.

Education, Inspiration

Xzavier Killings ’16 doesn’t settle for anything less than his best effort, and his contributions to the Davidson community reflect that intention. The biology major, track and field captain and 2015 homecoming king from Roebuck, S.C., recently broke the school record in the long jump—just one of the many ways he will leave a legacy on campus.

Though Killings’ track and field schedule did not permit him to study abroad during the academic year, he gained international experience through a Dean Rusk travel grant, which allowed him to travel to Germany to shadow doctors in a hospital and volunteer at a local preschool.

“That opportunity to go abroad broadened my horizons and left me wanting to go back to Germany and travel more,” said Killings, a German minor, Bonner Scholar and recipient of the Allen V. Beck Jr. Scholarship and the Bethea Scholarship.

At the hospital where Killings volunteered, one unique program left a lasting impression: a parkour program to combat diabetes.

“It was so innovative,” explained Killings, referring to the urban sport of running and jumping over obstacles to promote well-being. “It made me realize we need more programs like that, turning something challenging into something inspiring.”

Killings was awarded a Watson Fellowship to work on a project inspired by his time in Germany. Titled “Ultimate Healing: Empowering Patients Through Service, Education and Athletics,” the fellowship will allow him to spend a year traveling to Jamaica, Zambia, India and Belize examining different approaches to healing, as well as how communities are empowering patients to sustain their healthcare outside of hospital walls.

With his long-term goal of becoming a medical practitioner, Killings hopes to learn what makes these international health programs successful so he can bring those ideas back to the United States.

Sport and Change

Alec Rotunda ’16, of Greensboro, N.C., successfully juggled the demands of a philosophy major, Division I athletics and campus leadership.

The men’s soccer team stand out and Honor Council chair proved himself to be a leader among his teammates. Even when sidelined with a potential career-ending injury, Rotunda supported his teammates by assisting with practices and games. He returned to the field this year as the team’s leading scorer. Additionally, he spent a summer interning with Street Soccer USA, a non-profit organization founded by Lawrence Cann ’00 that uses sport as a means of sparking social change and empowering those who are disadvantaged.

Rotunda’s love of soccer and belief in the ways in which sport can cultivate personal characteristics led him to apply for a Watson Fellowship with a project titled, “Uncovering the World’s Game: A Study of Personal Growth and Character Development in International Youth Soccer.”

Rotunda hopes to learn from his Watson year about different perspectives on and benefits of soccer in society, with the goal of becoming a more conscious global citizen. Rotunda will work with teams and grassroots organizations in Germany, India, Ghana and South Africa to explore how soccer inspires and prepares youths for life.

Rotunda is a recipient of the Susan and Peter Andrews Men’s Soccer Scholarship, the Charlie Slagle Soccer Scholarship and the Britt Armfield Preyer Scholarship.

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About Author

Joey Beeler

Joey Beeler is the sports information director at Davidson College where he previously served as an assistant from 2005-08. Prior to rejoining the Davidson staff, Beeler spent four years as the assistant athletic director for athletic communications at Radford University in Radford, Va.

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