Dependable, trustworthy, cheerful, prepared — a few of the many adjectives used to describe an Eagle Scout. Travis Kwee, a senior at Aragon High School, is no exception.
Dependable, for each year, Travis delivers a beautiful Boy Scout holiday wreath to adorn my front door. Trustworthy, Travis can always be counted on to install this holiday wreath in such a fashion that the large, red bow at its base makes a 90 degree angle with my front steps. Cheerful, since Travis has delivered my holiday wreath consistently with a warm smile. And of course, prepared: Not every Boy Scout hangs holiday wreaths while decked out in his complete uniform (My mom requested he do so the first year we ordered one, and he has enthusiastically obliged ever since).
When adding those four qualities together, the sum is dedication. As a Boy Scout, Aragon student and community member, Travis has shown an incredible amount of dedication to the world around him, which makes it no surprise that earned the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout on Nov. 18, after 11 years of Boy Scouts.
Since meeting Travis on the co-ed Borel Tennis Team in sixth grade, I have had the privilege of forging a very special friendship. In the process, I have also been able to observe his distinctive qualities, many of which stem from Boy Scout ideology, and make him a truly special individual.
While leadership can often be defined as “taking charge,” Travis embodies a slightly different meaning of the word, one that comes from dozens of camping trips and Boy Scout activities. As he explained to me recently, leadership does not mean that one takes charge at every opportunity; instead, he recognizes the balance between leading and following. Every man leads at some point, and every man follows at some point.
This balance has been crucial during troop camping trips. Each troop member receives a delegated task and is also expected to assume responsibility in a certain area. For example, one member may be in charge of cooking while also being responsible for helping to collect firewood. Each member is leading, but also following.
Travis also practices this idea at Aragon. While he is the leader of many on-campus groups, he is still an incredibly effective group member when he is not a leader. Having worked with him on student council for the class of 2014, I know what a difference his organized notes and records make for our group. His willingness to listen to other points of view and tackle any task with ease makes him an asset to any team in any capacity.
Just as the Boy Scout oath asks participants to stay “mentally awake,” Travis approaches his interests with a deep, genuine passion. While it can be easy to overcommit for the sake of building an attractive resume, Travis stays true to what he loves, especially baking, hiking and reading. I have had the privilege of baking with Travis several times, and one of my favorite parts is watching him work intuitively. Just as Travis is a team player, he understands the value of community; through his wonderful creations, he reminds me of the simple joys of being with friends and sharing something delicious.
Travis’ other passions, hiking and reading, can often be seen together in his photographs. A couple of months ago, after he returned from a trip up Half Dome, he showed me two brilliant photos. The first was of him doing our assigned English reading while overlooking Yosemite Valley and the second was of him “planking” on top of the peak. While planking on top of Half Dome is enough to make me shiver, Travis’ exuberance is contagious. Doing things that make you happy ultimately makes others happy, too.
Now that Travis is an Eagle Scout, he is a representative of Boy Scouts everywhere. Honestly, I could not think of a better person to represent an organization that promotes being dependable, trustworthy, cheerful and prepared.
Congratulations, Travis. I am immensely proud of you.
Annika Ulrich is a senior at Aragon High School in San Mateo. Student News appears in the weekend edition. You can email Student News at firstname.lastname@example.org.