Meet Justus Smith, 2020 PFL Scholarship Recipient
Before I begin, I would like to thank the Lutzie 43 Foundation and all of the members for granting me this wonderful opportunity. To say the least, my senior year in high school has been one of the most challenging for not only me but for my other seniors as well. Although the end of this year has been frustrating due to the pandemic, this scholarship gives me financial security in my next four years, which in turn gives me hope for my future. In a time where aspirations are at an all-time low for our nation, I’ll take all the hope that I can get.
I first heard of the Lutzie 43 Prepared for Life Scholarship when one of my peers in band, Ashtyn Grace King, a 2019 PFL Scholarship recipient. I had never heard of Philip Lutzenkirchen before, (probably because I protested the infamous Alabama-Auburn debate and everything else football-related up until high school) but I added his name to my already beginning scholarship list, knowing that in the coming year I would revisit it to apply. Though I glanced over his name initially, whenever I began to research his life and his legacy to write my essays, I was instantly changed. I was initially surprised by the incredible amount of similarities that we shared. He played football in high school and college, and I’ll be joining the Auburn Marching Band (hopefully) in the fall after four years of high school band. He used to work at St. James High School, which is less than a 30-minute drive from my house. He placed a great emphasis on partaking in communal and religious events, which is something I strive to do as well. He was a proud Auburn tiger, and I am too.
But above all these, one similarity stuck out among the rest: Philip was a fighter for equality, which is something that I value deeply. I was honestly surprised whenever I read in lesson 36 when Philip stood up for a homosexual football player. I was not surprised because I thought Philip was a bad person, but because the fight for equality in a state plagued by racism and discrimination is rare. Time and time again I have stood up for my gay friends, not because I 100% agree with their beliefs, but because they are people too, and deserve the same amount of love and respect as every other human being. I feel a deeper connection to Philip because of this shared value, and this has really piqued my interest in his legacy.
I am frequently amazed at how physically, mentally, and spiritually strong he was, and how he seamlessly balanced all of his different roles. Though I have been involved in almost every extracurricular my school has to offer, and have been blessed to lead my peers in a variety of ways and positions, I know that this responsibility has frequently left me broken and exhausted. Philip’s legacy has inspired me to remember to keep fighting through the pain in these moments, looking to Christ as a source for strength. Philip has also inspired me to use my voice to actively fight injustice instead of situationally, and in wake of the tragic murder of George Floyd, I have been outspoken among my peers in the fight for racial equality.
In summary, Philip Lutzenkirchen was an amazing man of God who represented the true Auburn man, and it pains me that I could only find out about this incredible human being after his passing. I hope that one day we can meet again, and who knows? He might even sign a jersey for me.