Nick Dawkins, Line-ing up Passions for Community and Sport
Nick Dawkins has big dreams. To play in the NFL. To eventually earn his MBA. To own and operate community centers in stressed communities that will help at-risk kids. “My biggest dream is to take care of my family and to be happy.”
As a Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management major at Penn State, Nick is enrolled in the community recreation option. He selected RPTM because, “I want to impact people in different ways and RPTM offers that. RPTM offers versatile ways to impact communities.” As an intern with the YMCA of Centre County this summer, Nick is learning more about programs and services that support communities.
Community service and giving back are part of Nick’s DNA, a family lineage that comes with a lot of visibility. The middle child of Janice and Darryl Dawkins, sports icon who played in the NBA for 14 years, Nick understands that success comes with responsibility. Two of his cousins had successful careers in the NFL and another in the NBA.
After losing his father to a heart attack when Nick was in middle school, Nick’s focus changed. A key reason he chose to attend Penn State was to be close to home and continue to help out his family. His priority is to be a strong support for his mother and his sisters, including his older sister who has Down’s Syndrome. “I’m an open book,” said Nick as he talks about his father and his family. “It’s all part of the story.”
Nick was recruited out of Parkland High School in Allentown, PA to play offensive line for the Nittany Lions. After a redshirt season and months spent recuperating from shoulder surgery, Nick is projected to be a major contributor this season.
As an intern with the YMCA of Centre County, Nick is putting his talents—and his passion for helping others—to good use. He’s developed a multi-sports camp as part of the YMCA’s summer youth programming and is developing an Olympic Games camp for later this summer for his internship special project. “I love my internship. One of the coolest things I’ve done so far is take a trip to the Moshannon Valley branch of the YMCA of Centre County to learn about their anti-hunger programming. They took an old bowling alley and turned it into a food distribution center for families in need. The staff there are so dedicated and passionate.” Nick is completing his full-time internship around pre-season and summer workouts for the football team. His hopes are to continue into graduate school and potentially earn a MBA while using his last years of NCAA eligibility.
Outside of football and his academic internship, Nick is already starting to give back. He has started a 5013c organization called the Dawkins Family Foundation whose mission is to empower communities through youth. To date, they have already offered three scholarships to high school seniors and are working collaboratively with the Lehigh Valley YMCA and Big Brothers/Big Sisters this summer to deliver book bags for children and teens in need. He eventually would also like to set up a mentorship program for children who have experienced the loss of a parent.
“I spent my whole life when I was younger participating in after school programs,” said Nick. “As I’ve gotten older, I have seen friends with limitless potential who became susceptible to the things that pull us off track. If some of them had access to after school programs like I did, they might have been able to turn some different pages.”
When asked about the upcoming football season, Nick said, “I’m back and I’m ready to play. If plans go the way they tell me, it should be a good season.” For Nick Dawkins—student, athlete, family man, community contributor, and role model, we expect that things will go exactly as planned wherever his dreams take him.