Oct. 26, 2004
Story: WCU's Lunzaya Nlandu Qualifies for John Wooden Trophy
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina senior Lunzaya Nlandu, a member of the Catamount basketball team, is one of 24 people from a pool of 100 nominees around the nation to qualify for the John Wooden Trophy, which is presented by "Athletes for a Better World."
The John Wooden Trophy is presented
to two distinguished athletes - one intercollegiate and one professional
- that best display character, teamwork, and citizenship, the attributes
"Athletes for a Better World" deems central to transforming
individuals, sport and society. In order to be nominated for the John
Wooden Trophy, the athlete must:
In addition to the work ethic, sportsmanship, positive relationships, grace and dignity, Nlandu has demonstrated, his charity work truly shows his desire to make this a better world.
While he does give back to the community, serving as a tutor at a local elementary school and volunteering at the Community Table of Sylva, Nlandu and a classmate, Paul Aloo, have started Africed, which means Africa-Education. They noticed that several professors were throwing away used textbooks at the end of school year. Because they were once students in Africa, they know the reality that African students are lacking resources such as textbooks, technology and other educational material to enhance their level of education. Therefore, they started going around campus to different departments and asking professors to donate used textbooks with the intention of shipping them to Africa to build "Resource Center/Libraries" which will include educational materials such as used books, college textbooks and computers.
Together, they collected approximately 500 used books and college textbooks around the campus, community and churches in the area. After that initial success, they decided to take this project to another level, asking the University bookstore if they would be willing to contribute to their effort. Not only did Western Carolina University donate more than 10,000 used books that were meant to be recycled, but they also provided Nlandu and Aloo with some office space on campus to conduct their endeavors.
This past summer, Nlandu and Aloo drove more than 2,000 miles across the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia, stopping at a number of universities asking for used text books donations. Their trips across these states were extremely successful in that several universities such as South Carolina, Central Florida and others agreed to donate not only textbooks, but possible grant money for shipping the materials. By the end of summer, they had 20,000 books and textbooks in storage awaiting shipment to Africa.
Currently, they are in the process of incorporating Africed and writing grant proposals with the intention of attracting corporations, philanthropists, institutions and individuals to gain enough funds for shipment of books and construction of the infrastructure to turn this project into a reality that will change the life of many young people. Their short term goals are to create awareness of Africed around the United States. Also, they hope to collect at least 50,000 books and receive enough funds and build the first resource center in Cameroon. Africed also wants to develop a strong relationship with American corporations and institutions for monetary donations and educational materials to build new infrastructure and receive books and textbooks donations year after year.
Nlandu said of his work, "A wise man once said, `Every great movement was started by a group of committed people who passionately believed in something and someone who passionately believed in these people.' We are passionate about this movement because education will give young students in less fortunate countries a chance at becoming what they aspire and dare to dream. We will pursue our goals with a feeling of assurance that they can and will be met because everything is possible in this world. "
WCU head coach Steve Shurina added, "Everyone, coaches and players alike, has a tremendous amount of respect for Lunzaya. We have three new coaches on our staff and the player they first `fell in love' with was Lunzaya. All of the players think of Lunzaya as a brother and some like a father figure. They all look up to him like few players I have ever coached.
"In a very general way, Lunzaya contributes to society every day because of his permanent smile, his ability to make everyone he comes into contact with feel special, and his overall infectious positive outlook on life. Specifically, he has tutored at risk students at the local elementary school. He is fully aware of his responsibility as a role model and the impact he can have on society."
Nlandu and his Catamount teammates will play Erskine in a home exhibition game on Nov. 10 (7:00 pm). Western will then open the regular season with five games on the road. The first three will be at the Black Coaches Association Classic in Milwaukee, Wis. The Cats will face host team Marquette first (Nov. 14), then play either Penn State or Illinois State on Nov. 15. Western will play a team to be determined on Nov. 16. Upon its return to Cullowhee, Western will head straight to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama on Nov. 19, then travel to Columbia to play South Carolina Nov. 21.
Congratulations to the 24 intercollegiate athletes that have reached the quarter finals in the selection process for the inaugural John Wooden Trophy:
Emily Adams (Women's
Volleyball), University of Southern California