This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.
Brent Suter flat-out loves helping others. No life-changing experience spurred him to enter the public service arena. He’s just built that way.
In fact, Suter’s coming-of-age story is fairly standard: a natural athlete, the Midwestern-born Suter played baseball and basketball from a young age. Always academically strong, he was also involved in student government at his Catholic high school in Cincinnati, and worked with organizations like Big Brother and Little Buddies. During his senior year, Suter’s pitching really took off, earning the attention of Harvard coaches.
His left-handedness makes him a valuable commodity, but Suter is not just the exceptional sportsman. He’s the exceptional all-arounder. During his years at Harvard, Suter maintained his affinity for helping others, simply because he has “always loved serving the community.”
“It does give me this sense of joy to see the happiness you can bring to other people’s lives,” he said. “But overall, it’s a necessary thing to give back to the community to remind yourself of how blessed you are, and to use the position you’re in to help others who sometimes aren’t so fortunate.”
This year, Suter was one of 30 national athletes nominated for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible, a student-athlete must be an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character, and competition.
Suter, a double concentrator in environmental science and public policy and a pre-med student, is a third-year volunteer tutoring first-generation immigrant third- and fourth-graders in literacy and math at the Cambridge After School Program of Phillips Brooks House Association. He’s the baseball team’s central figure in its Friends of Jaclyn program, which benefits Alex Wawrzyniak, who suffers from pilocytic astrocytoma low grade glioma, a form of cerebral tumor. Suter is also active with the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter and the student group Athletes in Action, and he is co-chair of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. There, he was instrumental in leading events such as the Bench Press for Breast Cancer in 2010 and 2011, shoe drives for Africa, toiletry drives for the homeless, and charity balls.
But wait — there’s more.
Last year, Suter founded the Harvard Baseball-Watertown Cuniff Elementary Program. Harvard baseball players travel each Friday to the elementary school to tutor and mentor students in an effort to provide a positive male role model in their lives. “A couple of weeks ago, the school invited us over for a schoolwide pep rally,” recalled Suter. “And then they all came out to our game against Boston College at home, and they gave us a lot of cheers, and it was a lot of fun. We ended up winning the game. It was a really special moment.”
Now, Suter’s off to Indianapolis to teach remedial math for Teach For America — unless the majors come calling. “I really want to play professional ball,” said Suter, who is awaiting the June draft. “I’ve had interest from a lot of teams, so we’ll see.”
The pitcher, who throws in the high 80s to lower 90s, said that while at Harvard he has “grown from a boy to a man.”
“My four years here have been wonderful. Even the baseball losses taught me good lessons about perseverance, and just taking a step back to realize how lucky we are,” he said.
Perhaps Suter’s one regret was not making the cut during a singing tryout for one of Harvard’s campus music groups. His talents and activities are enough to ruin one’s self-esteem forever: music on top of Harvard, on top of baseball, on top of volunteering?
“But,” said Suter, laughing, “I’ve actually wanted to do more in my college career.”