Who We Are: Tatum Waggoner
"As a college student, I think I still have a passion to be out in the community because I recognize how many people helped me succeed and I hope to play that role in the lives of others. Giving back is a way I show my gratitude to those who have supported me."
Sport: Track & Field
Major: Graduate School: Special Education
Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz.
An All-American on the track, a star in the classroom and a dedicated volunteer in the community, Tatum Waggoner is a leader in all aspects.
Throughout her six years as a Wildcat, the redshirt-senior sprinter from Phoenix, Arizona has made her mark on the Track and Field program. However, her impact reaches far beyond the track of Roy P. Drachman Stadium.
Growing up, Waggoner was encouraged by her parents to get involved in her community and extend a lending hand to those in need. Over the years she has done just that.
"Even when I was little, my parents told us that we can make a difference in the world," said Waggoner. "As a college student, I think I still have a passion to be out in the community because I recognize how many people helped me succeed and I hope to play that role in the lives of others. Giving back is a way I show my gratitude to those who have supported me."
Her desire to become a leader in the community and give back is a direct reflection of one of the core values of the Wildcat Way; compassion.
Compassion is the support of our commitment to always choosing to care, commitment to the value of teamwork and community, commitment to serving our community of supporters.
Waggoner has been involved in various projects and volunteered with several organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, Love of Reading and the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona to name a few.
In addition to her hands-on volunteer work, Waggoner has also played a major role in facilitating community service opportunities for her peers. Her work with the Community Service Sub-Committee within the NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has given student-athletes at Arizona and all over the country more opportunities to get involved in their communities.
"My favorite part of community service is meeting so many wonderful people," said Waggoner. "There are so many amazing individuals that work extremely hard to better the lives of others."
Through her many hours of volunteer work, Waggoner has met and built relationships with people from all different walks of life. When looking back and reflecting on those who have had a lasting impact on her, one specific moment stands out amongst the others.
"My 'ah-ha' moment I had in community service was when I was volunteering at a facility that worked with young adults with cerebral palsy and other disabilities," said Waggoner. "I had the pleasure of meeting a young man who took his first steps with a walker after being in a wheelchair for 20 years. That experience inspired me to get a Master's in Special Education and guided me to my goal of working as a school-based occupational therapist."
Waggoner's career goals and belief in the importance of giving back stems from her desire to be a source of inspiration and kindness for others. She recalls similar figures she has had throughout her life and hopes to emulate that same relationship through her community service work.
"We can all think of one person who impacted our lives significantly. This could be a teacher, a parent, a relative, etc. Most of us wouldn't be where we are today if it weren't for this individual. In turn, it is important that we volunteer because there are so many people that seek this same relationship. There are so many people who may just need a little help to project them forward. Even the smallest act of kindness can make a huge difference."
Small acts of kindness have the ability to make a huge difference now more than ever. In the midst of a global pandemic, people are relying on one another in more ways than one. Waggoner stresses the importance of finding ways to help others get through these unusual times.
"Our world right now can look a little scary," said Waggoner. "It's understandable why people want to hide and look the other way. However, it is vital that we look to see if there is anyone near us that can use a little help. There are moms who are uncertain how long their diapers, milk or formula will last. Some of our older friends may be running out of groceries. Now more than ever we need to look into ways we can come together to help our community. Now is our chance to be creative in caring. There are so many different ways to help."
A question Waggoner often asks herself and hopes others will begin asking themselves as well: "How can we challenge ourselves to make an impact?"