Senior Drake Summers, a human services and psychology double major, can often be spotted in the Office of Student Involvement. His trademark long-sleeved shirts and Northwest ambassador pullover and blond whiskers along his cheeks and chin make him easy to spot.
He grew up in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, a small town northeast of Kansas City. However, one word drives his life and passion: charity.
“I think everyone is meant to serve a purpose and when you find what your purpose is, you just gotta run with it,” Summers said. “For me, I feel like my purpose is to help those who need it.”
His roommate and childhood friend, senior T.J. Johnson, an elementary education and multicultural studies double major, witnessed Summers work from the ground up.
“We grew up together,” Johnson said. “I’ve known him for forever. One thing I’ve always known about him is he is a kind and giving soul. He’s someone who always looks out for other people.”
The difference between charity and philanthropy is often blurred. Philanthropy is a long-term commitment, often to one organization. Charity is often a short-term commitment.
“We both took on leadership roles in high school, and I got to see him excel,” Johnson said. “We formed projects on student council, and he was the one forefronting everything, and I was his little wingman that would help him through the process. But he would just continue to grow and he and Garrett Niemier are one of the big reasons I transferred here from Missouri State after my freshman year.”
Student Senate president and biology psychology senior Alyssa Lincoln quickly took notice.
“First off, his smile is contagious,” Lincoln said. “He’s one of the most light-hearted, kindest, selfless people I’ve ever met. He’s always been one of my favorite Bearcat leaders.”
Summers is the oldest of four siblings, having two brothers and a sister, and considers his parents to be his strongest support system. He credits his mother with his passion for helping others and helping define his future career path.
“I have plans to work with adults with disabilities in employment situations, like getting them jobs, developing work training,” Summers said. “That’s what I came here to do and when human services became a program here at Northwest, I became immediately interested. I grew up around shelter workshops, which are employment opportunities for adults with disabilities. My mom does programming for a shelter workshop, and I’ve worked with that population my whole life.”
For Summers, he finds happiness in the joy of helping disabled adults.
“I love being around them,” Summers said. “I love seeing them be happy and fulfilled. There is this simplistic idea that adults with disabilities don’t need the same things out of life that your ‘Average Joe’ does, so work is important to everyone. Seeing someone else being fulfilled is so cool.”
Summers translated his love of charity from his major to his campus involvement. He is the civic service chair of Student Senate, the president-elect of Student Activities Council and a student ambassador for the University.
“I’ve devoted most of my time to Student Activities Council,” Summers said. “It’s something that immediately spoke to me. I’m pretty confident in my abilities, always have been, and was looking for a way to showcase things on a bigger scale and to use my skills to bring something really fun and cool to students.”
His work does not go unnoticed.
“I’m fortunate enough to be his roommate,” Johnson said. “I see him working on Student Senate. I see him working on SAC, and I see him working on any opportunity to benefit students. There really isn’t a moment where Drake isn’t working, so that is what I consider to be his biggest charitable work.”
To Johnson, it’s Summers’ passion that sets him apart.
“With the job he has for the student ambassador, he works with students to share his passion,” Johnson said. “His heart is here, at Northwest.”
Summers takes pride in his work, both socially and academically.
“I think, in general, it’s a real accomplishment to be involved in organizations and do well academically,” Summers said. “That’s something I’ve always been proud of myself for doing. Being able to find involvement, and being really involved, and be a student too.”
Summers’ position as a civic service chair on Student Senate has given him an outlet to introduce Northwest students to local philanthropies and charities, such as Adopt-A-Family and Ben’s Stocking of Hope.
“He’s had a lot of big successes,” Johnson said. “He’s served on Student Activities Council for four years as an executive member and to me, that is such a charitable thing he does. Yes, there is a small scholarship, but it’s not worth the time you put in. He does it on behalf of the students.”
Summers is scheduled to graduate in May 2019.
“His willingness to help others is his big legacy,” Johnson said. “But also his resilience, that’s a word I would describe him with: resilient.”
To Lincoln, Summers can be summed up in one word.
“Selfless,” Lincoln said. “I would describe him as selfless.”