Xzavier Killings '16 doesn't settle for anything less than his best effort, and he constantly strives to contribute more to the Davidson community. The senior biology major, track and field captain and 2015 homecoming king from Roebuck, S.C. recently broke the school record in the long jump–just one of the many ways he will leave a legacy on campus long after commencement.
In addition to his passion for athletics, community service is a cornerstone of Killings' life on campus. As a Bonner Scholar, he performs 280 hours of community service per year, averaging 10 hours per week on top of already demanding academic and athletic commitments. He served as Davidson's congressional representative for the national Bonner Scholars program, attending a national conference and engineering new civic engagement programs at Davidson.
For the past four years, he has volunteered about seven hours per week at the Davidson College Presbyterian Church preschool, where the preschoolers now all want to go to college and sport bright orange backpacks just like their hero, Xzavier. Additionally, he served as service chair for his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., working with the Second Harvest Food Bank in Charlotte, and has been a summer Service Odyssey leader. Through that position, he helped introduce incoming first-year students to Davidson's culture of service, many he now sees involved in various aspects of civic engagement in the greater Davidson community.
Though Killings' track and field schedule did not permit him to study abroad during the academic year, he gained international experience through a Dean Rusk travel grant, which allowed him to travel to Germany to shadow doctors in a hospital and volunteer at a local preschool.
"That opportunity to go abroad broadened my horizons and left me wanting to go back to Germany and travel more," said Killings, a German minor who, in addition to the Bonner Scholarship, also receives the Allen V. Beck Jr. Scholarship and the Bethea Scholarship.
At the hospital where Killings volunteered, one unique program left a lasting impression: a parkour program to combat diabetes.
"It was so innovative," explained Killings, referring to the urban sport of running and jumping over obstacles to promote well-being. "It made me realize we need more programs like that, turning something challenging into something inspiring."
Killings is one of four Davidson College finalists for the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, with a project titled, "Ultimate Healing: Empowering Patients through Service, Education and Athletics." If selected, he will spend a year traveling to Jamaica, Zambia, India and Belize examining different approaches to healing, and how communities are empowering patients to sustain their healthcare outside of hospital walls.
With his long-term goal of becoming a medical practitioner, Killings hopes to learn what makes these international health programs successful so he can bring those ideas back to the United States.
Now in his final semester at Davidson, Killings emphasizes how much he values the relationships and opportunities he has had to give back to the community.
"I didn't expect to be supported as much as I am by professors, staff and students," said Killings. "My community of athletics, academics and my social family all intertwine and support each other, working toward a common goal. It's only right that I pay that support forward."
This humility and desire to support others parallels Killings' goal to serve others through medicine and lead by example in every facet of his life.
"As the oldest of four kids, I always try to be a good role model for siblings, just like the role models that I had," he said. "I'm not perfect, but I am striving to do better and better every day."