Student Spotlight: Stephen Wagner

Stephen Wagner, our first ever crowned Mr. Gyrene, is a sophomore double majoring in Psychology and Business from Johns Creek, GA. Coming from a family of 19 kids, Stephen is a member of the Papist Rugby club, a Resident Assistant for Sebastian Hall, and an avid juggler of torches, pins, and apples. Stephen loves to make people laugh, hang out with his friends, and describes himself as a light-hearted guy who loves to entertain. We were able to meet with the one and only Mr. Gyrene for an inside scoop on his many talents, interests, and what he holds most important in his life.

Hey, Stephen! Let's start out with one of those questions: what is your personal philosophy, in regard to life and work?

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I would say that right now, being a sophomore in college, I'm still cultivating a set of core values that will contribute to my overall personal philosophy.

I’m currently focused on creating fundamental principles that I will govern myself in accordance to. With that being said, I believe that the different things that I participate in - like rugby, for example - has taught me core principles through experience. The values I learned on the rugby field, or through sports, are what really shaped my life. In my effort to deepen in personal growth,

I recently joined the Aletes Arete household because it is geared towards my personal betterment through Christ, so I am confident that it well help facilitate my personal philosophy.

With a double major in Psychology and Business, what field do you hope to enter into post-graduation?

I’m not particularly sure want I want to do yet (I’m still only a sophomore, after all!), but I recently decided to pursue a Psychology major because it’s definitely something I’m interested in and it coincides well with the Business field. I want to know how people think, and why they do the things they do, so that I can do a lot of good for the public through business.

Also, my interest in Psychology stems from my family - I have siblings with special needs, and my coursework has helped me interact with them and understand the underlying circumstances of their conditions. So while I am still figuring out what I want to do after graduation, I believe what I’m currently studying will help me come to know what I’m called to do.

That’s a great outlook to have as an underclassmen. In your opinion, what would you say are your three best qualities?

I would say confidence, intelligence, and intuitiveness.

So, you’re a member of the Papist Rugby team! Tell us about your experience with the sport.

I played rugby all through high school, so it has been apart of my life for awhile. I went to a boarding school in Scranton, PA, so the majority of my time was dedicated to school and rugby.

My team traveled often for games and tournaments as well, which was awesome because the sport brought me to new places. While it is a smaller sport, it definitely has the best team culture and fanbase. It has taught me a lot of character-building lessons, especially when I was injured during a game and throughout my recovery.

Oh, no! How were you injured?

In my senior year of high school, I fractured my face - right above my right eye. It was honestly one of the scariest experiences of my life. When I went to the hospital, I knew my face was definitely fractured but I didn't let the gravity of it "sink in" until after the doctor brought up the high possibility of brain surgery.

They were worried that fragments of bone from my skull went back into my eye and were, I guess, stuck in my brain. I was on the phone with my mom, and when I heard the news I immediately thought "Oh no, my life is going to change." I thought I was going to have to take off o year of school and fall behind - something that would devastate any high school senior looking forward to graduation. I was also the captain of the rugby team, so I had the added pressure of letting my team down and missing out on playing the sport I loved. 

Fortunately the next day, I was re-evaluated and the doctors concluded I didn't need the surgery after all. It was definitely the scariest 24 hours of my life, though! 

How did you get through that difficult period of your life?

The environment of my boarding school was one of brotherhood - I was with the same group of guys day in and day out, so the bond I had with my friends was incredibly solid. I remember talking to my roommates about everything, telling them how terrified I was due to the extent of my injury and the initial course of action my doctor gave me.

To be honest, I was really looking for sympathy.

My roommates really picked me up and kicked me out of that funk, saying, "DUDE. You're the rugby captain, and you're playing ruby. Injuries happen. Right now, this {possible surgery and long recovery] has got to happen to get you better." It wasn't meant to be harsh, rather a "snap out of it" pep-talk and made me realize that I have to handle what I need to do right now to ensure that I fully recover. I was able to get through it by taking their advice, and looking at my recovery as something that has to be done so that I can be there for my team and get better.

So, you're the first-ever Mr. Gyrene! How did it feel to be crowned?

It's such an honor!

My answer to people is usually that I feel, you know, a lot of emotions - but I haven't really thought about it as being the "first ever"! It's very cool to be a part of a new Ave tradition, especially at its conception. 

The competition was awesome and a lot of fun, too, and all the guys had a blast on stage. Mr. Gyrene will definitely go down as one of my best memories from college.