ATA produces its first Rhodes Scholar
Photos by Pat Hoffman
TAOS, N.M. - Jordan Schreiber is a special person.
It came as no surprise to his friends and family when the 21-year-old was announced as one of 32 chosen out of 1,253 applicants to be a Rhodes Scholar. After all, his life has been anything but ordinary.
As a child his father, a busy family physician, told his son he would take Taekwondo if Jordan would. Nine-year-old Jordan joined the studio belonging to his neighbor, Dan Thor. His father finally found time to keep his promise when Jordan was a 2nd Degree Black Belt and instructor trainee. Eventually, Thor would train five of the Schreiber clan.
Meanwhile, the Schreiber family was becoming somewhat of a legend in Taos. As Schreiber described his family in his Rhodes Scholarship Application, "My family is a multi-cultural mosaic, consisting of 14 children (four of us were not adopted) with a diversity of perspectives that reflects the different circumstances from which we came: Indian and South Korean orphanages, a Cambodian refugee camp, an Indian jail, and a string of foster homes in New York and New Mexico - an incomplete but nonetheless descriptive list."
Schreiber's determination to contribute positively to the lives of children "springs not from a learned ideology nor from the exhortations of religious or political leaders, but from the physical and emotional tortures and triumphs experienced by my 10 adopted brothers and sisters."
His first outlet for working with children came as an ATA instructor. He organized the Muscular Dystrophy Kick-a-thon the first year, then for the next 3 years coordinated the Child-Rite Kick-a-thon. Child-Rite is a special needs adoption agency created by his parents, Larry Schreiber and Carol Wells, based on the belief that every child deserves a loving family.
Schreiber continued to teach Taekwondo while attending high school, then founded the Harvard-Radcliffe ATA Taekwondo Club in 1992. He currently has 25 students, with two having attained the rank of Black Belt.
He also volunteers his time to teach a weekly Taekwondo class at an urban youth center in Cambridge, Mass.
A motivating factor in Schreiber's quest to work with children has been the example set by his 5th Degree instructor, Dan Thor. Mr. Schreiber states in his application, "The mentorship provided by my instructor has guided me through difficult times such as the divorce of my parents, and it has demonstrated to me the impact teachers can have on their students...Hoping to guide and inspire others as my instructor did me, I founded a martial arts club at Harvard...The club fosters organizational and leadership skills, and it has enabled me to befriend a diverse group of people who share a common interest in developing self-confidence, discipline and physical fitness. I am responsible not only for providing physical instruction and for imparting to them - by example and through guidance - respect, loyalty, perseverance and self-control; but also for recognizing their individual needs and enabling them to meet those needs."
The Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee considered four areas for each candidate: academics, leadership potential, public service commitment, and athletic ability. According to Schreiber, Taekwondo figured largely in all those areas. He credits martial arts training for keeping him "physically fit, mentally calm, and self-assured."
Schreiber's attaining the rank of 4th Degree at 1994 World Championships favorably impressed the committee, as did his long history of working with children and demonstration of leadership abilities as an instructor with the ATA for 5 1/2 years.
Schreiber leaves for Oxford, England, in October of 1995 to attend the University of Oxford for two years to study for a Masters of Philosophy in Politics. He plans to explore Europe during the six-week break between each trimester.
While in Oxford, Schreiber wants to investigate martial arts opportunities, and if conditions exist for a chance of continuity after he returns to the USA, he might possibly start another ATA club. Afterwards, Schreiber would like to return to Taos for a few years to teach high school and Taekwondo, and pursue his life goal of being a positive influence in the lives of children.
© 1995 Taekwondo World and/or The American Taekwondo Association