By Mia Pare
Meet The Point’s February Student of the Month, Austin Silvestri! A motivated and hectically busy junior, Austin ended up at Fitchburg State unexpectedly. He toured the school as an afterthought, not expecting it to be a contender, but the intimate community and appeal of the campus changed his mind. “At a big school, you don’t get the one-on-one time with a professor…that, and how awesome the campus is kind of just reeled me in,” Silvestri said.
In addition to maintaining five classes each semester, Austin has amassed an impressive collection of titles across several organizations at Fitchburg State. He is the Vice President of the Sigma Pi fraternity, the President and captain of the rugby team, and an Intramural Supervisor at The Rec Center.
His involvements with each of these organizations on campus are serendipitously integrated. Many of Austin’s Sigma Pi brothers are also his rugby teammates, and they encouraged him to run for treasurer as a freshman rookie. His role as treasurer placed him in close working proximity with the President, and learning the ins and outs of club administration at Fitchburg State prepared him for his future leadership roles. As soon as he experienced how rewarding it was to be a member, he set a goal to become President of the fraternity. Austin ran for Vice President and fell in love with the combination of responsibility and involvement it entailed. Austin manages all of the fraternity’s committees, such as the philanthropy committee: members of Sigma Pi spend two nights a week serving food to homeless members of the community at Our Father’s House and organize the annual “Amazing Day,” a suicide awareness campaign.
Growing up in Somerville, Austin kept himself busy playing sports during all three high school seasons. He originally played football, ice hockey, and baseball, but after several concussions, he made the switch from football to golf. He was captain of his high school’s baseball team, which has prepared him for his roles as captain of the rugby team and President of the rugby club at Fitchburg State.
Sports are Austin’s motivation. “I think my life revolves around sports,” Silvestri said. Although he has suffered from several concussions and broken both ankles, an elbow, and all ten fingers throughout his career, he doesn’t let setbacks deter him from doing what he loves. “I think [being injured] makes me want to play sports more. I miss sports when I’m hurt. When I can’t play and I’m on the sidelines, it frustrates the hell out of me,” Silvestri said.
He’s been playing ice hockey since he was just five, or “a bobbly-headed crate kid”—his affectionate nickname for kindergarteners learning to skate with crates and heavy helmets. When it came to college hockey, Austin had to make the tough decision to retire from his thriving twelve-year career due to the intensity and high level of commitment it requires. “I would be doing it for the love of the game, and I do love the game, but I love my education more,” he said.
He hasn’t let his passion for the game go to rest. Austin volunteers as a coach to those bobbly-headed crate kids when he’s home in between semesters. Practices start at six o’clock in the morning. It’s rough rolling out of bed before the sun rises, but “ice time is ice time,” he shrugged. In addition to volunteering, Austin works as a camp counselor for his hometown’s rec department where he passes on his passion for sports to Somerville’s next generation of athletes.
An average day during the busiest time of the year for Austin will start with waking up for class, running home to change for rugby practice at 4:00 PM, leaving early to jump into the shower and change into his suit for the 5:00 Sigma Pi board meeting, and finally changing in the bathroom of The Rec Center for his 6:00 shift. When asked how he balances this frenzy of commitments and still manages to maintain good grades in his five classes, Austin credits the structure a full calendar provides. “I work better when I’m on a schedule. If I have time to sit around and do nothing, I’m not doing any of my schoolwork,” he admitted.
Austin’s inspiration to challenge himself comes from his mother. “She’s the hardest worker I’ve ever met,” he admired. “She takes things the same way—works well under pressure, and it’s pretty obvious that she’s always under pressure.”
Like many college students, Austin unwinds with late-night PlayStation binges. As for the social life Austin manages to squeeze in between practices and meetings, Austin relies on his sense of humor. “I’m a little shy, so if I can crack a joke and make you smile, then I know I’m doing something right.”