Family First and Paying it Forward

January 21, 2022

Warren Fulgenzi has a busy schedule, but his main goal is still to give back and to leave a legacy.

Brandelyn (left), Warren (middle) and Lauren (right) FulgenzieWarren Fulgenzi, a graduate student on the men’s tennis team, did not start his college journey at the University of the Incarnate Word. But when he decided to move on from Our Lady of Lake University, Fulgenzi did not have to look far to find some familiar faces across the tennis court.

Brandelyn, Fulgenzi’s younger sister who is now a senior, joined UIW’s women’s tennis team the year prior to his arrival, a factor that influenced his decision to attend UIW. Their younger sister, Lauren, is now a sophomore at UIW. Brandelyn and Lauren are doubles partners for the Cardinals.

“A lot of people think it’s weird or crazy, but my sisters and I, we have a really good relationship,” said Fulgenzi. “Having them here pushes me to become a better person, because I know they are looking up to me. When I’m making decisions, I have to make sure I think about them first, to make sure it doesn’t impact me in a bad way or my family in a bad way. I’m enjoying being here with them a lot.”

But family relationships on the court are just a start for the types of bonds Fulgenzi wants to build at UIW. He is vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisor Committee (SAAC), a group that helps bridge the gap between student-athletes and administrators in NCAA athletics departments. At UIW, this committee places a big emphasis on giving back to the community.

UIW SAAC helps coordinate volunteer opportunities for the student-athletes, such as creating care kits for the homeless community and using a social media initiative called Word Wednesday to bring awareness to domestic violence.

“The main thing is trying to give back to the community, but we also want to build other student-athletes as leaders,” he said.

When Fulgenzi arrived on campus, he knew he wanted to give back. Joining SAAC provided him with an opportunity to do just that, while being team captain of the men’s tennis team for the past three years, has provided him with additional experience as he continues to grow.

“Being on the tennis team has helped me grow as a person and as a leader as well,” said Fulgenzi. “It’s taught me patience. It’s taught me that everyone is different, so it has taught me how to relate to people in different aspects of the sport or in life. It really has made me grow as a person physically, mentally and emotionally.”

“Building relationships is really key for me,” he added. “I’m a very social person, so having a good relationship with my professor and having only 20 kids in the class really was good for me to relate to and get to know people. Having the values of UIW and it being faith-based really meant a lot to me as well.”

At UIW, Fulgenzi is involved in multiple activities, both on and off campus. In addition to SAAC and men’s tennis, he attends Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) meetings, and he helps serve meals for homeless people at a downtown church on Saturday nights when he has a free weekend.

With such a busy schedule, Fulgenzi quickly had to learn how to manage his time. Amanda Pulido, UIW’s life skills coordinator, helped teach Fulgenzi tips to keep up with his busy schedule.

“It took a lot of practice and some experience, but it’s just time management,” he said. “Not just in school, but in life, you’re going to have to manage your time. Wherever my career takes me, time management is going to be useful, so I really try to be particular in what I have to get done at certain times.”

For Fulgenzi, having people who look up to him only helps him want to give back even more. But he wants to do more than just give back to the community. He wants to leave a legacy that will change people’s lives.

“I want to leave a legacy of always giving back,” said Fulgenzi. “I am blessed to be in the position I am in right now, playing DI tennis and getting my master’s, and I want to impact other people’s lives in a positive way.

“I also want to be known for treating everyone with respect. No matter where you come from, everyone has different backgrounds and comes from different cultures. I want to be that person who, when they think of me, they think ‘he was a guy who treated me with respect. He brought a smile to my face. No matter what he was going through, he was there for me.’”