Meet Andrew Landis, a 2023 PFL Scholarship Winner
To me, Philip Lutzenkirchen’s life was filled with a sense of selfless service. I feel that being a recipient of the Prepared for Life (PFL) Scholarship isn’t just an award, but a call to service – to work toward the greater good for all by committing to selfless service.
I am currently in my first year at the Naval Academy. I spent high school years at Benedictine Military School, an all-boys, Catholic, military school with the goal of “forming men of virtue and integrity who are prepared for life-long learning and service to their faith and civic communities.” All of my influences helped me to become a young man of character, faith, leadership, and service – like Philip Lutzenkirchen. I am surrounded by service from the military veterans who taught my JROTC unit, to the 5 monks who live on campus and teach classes and mentor our sports teams, to every member of the faculty who knows every student and who work tirelessly to help turn us into men of character.
The lesson that meant the most to me from the Safeguarding Your Legacy Curriculum is the term purpose. To me, everything we do involves purpose. Purpose really connects with me as it matches one of the core values of my school – from my first days at Benedictine Military School we have learned that our high school years should be focused on developing character, spirituality, brotherhood, and purpose. If we do not have purpose, there would be no reason to do anything. Especially in the lens as a driver does purpose mean more to me than ever before.
I feel that every time I get into my car, I have a purpose; to get to my destination safely so that my parents’ efforts will never go to waste. In a car, I realize that everything can end in a matter of seconds from a single distraction or poor decision. Every time I get behind the wheel, I know that my purpose in that moment is to get back to my home to those who love and care for me.
Through participating on teams in my high school years, I developed a greater understanding of what it means to have a purpose. My Raider team, which is a sort of Army physical training team competition for high school, taught me the drive and dedication that can be instilled in a group of people, but it all starts with purpose. With a mission, or a vision, or a purpose, incredible things can be achieved. Our goal my senior year was to win the state championship, so we sought out any means to do just that. We made the practices more difficult so that whatever we had to face at state competition would be easy. Closer to the competition, we even got up an hour earlier for a week to train in the cold in preparation for the possible cold temperatures we may have in the more mountainous town where we’d compete. Let me admit that at the time, it sucked, it really sucked. But with our vision in mind, everyone showed up and everyone gave it everything they had. We all had a purpose and a goal that we were going to achieve, and we would let nothing stop us from preparing for our opportunity.
On the lacrosse team I was taught to live by “Character, Competition, and Commitment:” the three C’s that are all part of finding, upholding, and acting with purpose. Every time we step onto the field, we have to do it with a purpose. If we don’t have a purpose, there is no reason for us to come together for two hours to play the game. Our lacrosse coaches have passed down an athletes’ prayer that they say right before every game, and central to the message is to be aware of the moments and the investment of our time that we make in every decision. We give our limited time for the purpose of our game, and so we should give everything we have into that game and into those two hours. We also live to the mantra, “Everything matters.” Anything important that we do must be filled with purpose.
At Benedictine, and specifically on the lacrosse team, we honor our number 10 jersey. Our tradition dates back to the months leading up to the first year of the school’s lacrosse program. In a very unfortunate incident, the coaches’ son, Ricky, who was a freshman at the time, made a series of mistakes, culminating in a car accident that took his life less than a block from his own home, and less than two months before the start of the season. He never got to wear his Benedictine Cadet number 10 jersey.
Ricky’s teammates, many of whom he taught to play lacrosse, honored his memory by using his number 10 jersey to both remember Ricky’s impact on each of them, but also to remember the decisions we are making when we get behind the wheel of a car. In direct memory of Ricky, and to celebrate what we have, each practice begins with a jog around the field like most teams – but on our lap, we each slow as we get to the first corner of the field to ring the bell atop the pillar and sign that commemorate Ricky, to remind us of our purpose for being there – on that field and in that particular moment. More universally, the number 10 legacy urges each of us to “Think” before we drive. Upon renovation to our school entrance and parking lot, Ricky’s face and the simple message to “Think” are now on a sign at the major student exit from our school parking lot, imploring everyone to think and to drive safely as they leave school. The number 10, in the BC-style oval, is on every lacrosse game jersey. I understand the purpose behind both of these programs, with the Lutzie 43 Legacy program being a national call to action for younger drivers, and I will always carry this with me as I graduate from high school and continue my academic career in college.
Yet in so many towns and high schools and colleges, we keep losing people. We have to drive with purpose, not just to get there as fast as we can, or to keep up with our social media. We have to look out for each other, and keep everyone we can from putting others at risk.
Receiving this scholarship is not a payback for completing the scholarship application, it is an investment in young drivers to become responsible driving ambassadors wherever they go.
This message is so important, and so strong and good, it needs to be spread. I am honored that the Lutzie 43 Foundation considers me worthy of this award, but more-so, that they believe I have the potential to make a difference in the future – a difference worthy of Philip’s legacy.