Finding Ways to Build a Stronger World is a Passion for Rose-Hulman's No. 1 Golfer

Monday, October 05, 2015
Sanders Park on putting green.

Driven to serve: Sanders Park, an active volunteer with many service organizations, has played competitive golf since age 8. He holds the Rose-Hulman school record for the lowest score carded in a tournament (66).

If you Google senior Sanders Park, you might think he spends most of his time winning golf matches for Rose-Hulman's men's golf team.

But, if you meet him, you'll wonder when he has time to visit the practice range.

Park, a civil engineering major, is passionate about serving others. He is co-president of the Rose-Hulman chapter of Engineers Without Borders, volunteers building wheelchair ramps for less privileged people, assists with the Special Olympics and Bikes for Tykes, and helps annually with the Pinewood Derby at St. Patrick Church in Terre Haute.

"I love helping people," he says. "It's exceptionally rewarding."

Park was inspired to help others at a young age. While in middle school, he and other students visited a nursing home in his hometown of Alpharetta, Georgia, to play Bingo with the residents, he recalls. That experience triggered a desire to serve others that has never gone away.

This summer, Park joined five other Rose-Hulman students with Engineers Without Borders, a global not-for-profit, for two weeks in a small village in Ghana, West Africa. The students used their engineering skills to design and construct -- with significant local help -- an impressive, 12-stall, concrete latrine for the local population. Most of Ghana's 25.5-million people do not have access to "improved sanitation," creating serious health risks, especially for children. The EWB project will turn that around for hundreds of people.

"Being able to change peoples' lives, that's incredible," Park says.

After graduating from Rose-Hulman, Park plans to attend graduate school and then pursue a career as a structural engineer with a special emphasis on designing earthquake resilient structures for the developing world.

"Most earthquakes don't happen in the United States. I want to help find solutions that are economical so that everyone, especially those in less developed nations, can benefit," he says. To that end, he has studied earthquake engineering at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania through the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES).

While working at Lehigh, Park presented a study on improving structural safety in the event of earthquakes at a conference in Reno, Nevada. He also traveled with other NEES earthquake researchers to a conference in Alaska.

And, of course, when he's not working to improve lives or thinking of ways to save them, Park remains the No. 1 player on the Rose-Hulman men's golf squad. A competitive golfer since age 8, he holds the school record for the lowest score in a tournament (66) and has led the Fightin' Engineers to several team victories. He is also a two-time Ping all-Great Lakes Region player, a three-time all-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference honoree, and the 2014 HCAC individual champion. He also plays the piano, writes music (including a two-minute song for steel drums), pursues photography, and is a member of the Blue Key and Tau Beta Pi Engineering honor societies.

But Park's true passion is finding ways to make a positive difference in people's lives anywhere he can. Among other things, he says, this summer's trip to Ghana taught him that "no matter how young or old, anyone can make a difference."