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Empathy Warriors: What it Takes To Win

By Kat Chu

Katt Chevas, past Empathy Warrior winner. Photo by author

One thing about d.tech that sets us apart from other schools, is our Empathy Warrior award. Every Wednesday during the community meeting, we gather around to applaud a student who’s been particularly empathetic that week. I had a chat with Dr. Montgomery to find out just how these empathy warriors are chosen and how the idea for this award started.

He said that during the first year of d.tech, we were really trying to do things that made us stand out from other schools. One of those things was our emphasis on being empathetic. He was inspired by the Warriors game some students got to go to freshman year, and came up with the Empathy Warriors idea.

Empathy Warriors are chosen by nomination, usually by staff but also by fellow students. Dr. Montgomery said it felt inspiring to see students nominate other students, because it showed how people are actually noticing things their classmates are doing to make the school a better place.

Students are nominated for things like using their own time to help others with work or returning lost items. Since founding year, quite a few students have been nominated. Empathy Warriors are usually given a gift card of about $5 to Starbucks or In-N-Out.

One thing Montgomery said in particular really struck me. He said, “we have to fight to be empathetic. Naturally, we’re selfish. We do what’s in our best interest. To be empathetic, to care for others, we have to fight that instinct.”

I talked to a few people who have won Empathy Warrior in the past, to see what they thought about it.

Julia Wang, a junior, won in her freshman year because of the work she did in d.Leadership, and for trying to build a stronger sense of community among d.tech students. Although she won, she says she doesn’t think the award really inspired her to continue to be empathetic.

Katt Chevas, also a junior, won in her sophomore year for being a good friend towards her classmates. She says that she didn’t feel inspired by the award, she was being empathetic because, “It’s human to be caring.” She said she didn’t expect to be called out and rewarded for it, but that the $5 Starbucks gift card she got was nice.

Benji Chang, a freshman, has never won Empathy Warrior. He says that that fact doesn’t make a difference to him, but says he thinks it might be inspiring to others.

Despite the fact that some feel indifferent towards or uninspired by the award, I, personally, think it inspires others, as Benji said. It’s something we have that makes us unique, and that’s why it was created it in the first place, right?

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