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A Grand Vision for Alumni Programs

August 7, 2011
by Lorie Obernauer
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Invictus, the film, tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa's rugby team to help unite their country. Invictus is the story of Nelson Mandela's first years as President of the culturally separated country South Africa in the 90's. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. In a way to unify his people, Mandela uses the country's love for Rugby to connect the whites and the blacks. As the team record has been less than impressive, no one expects anything notable from the Springboks. Mandela taps the captain of the team to rally his troops and surge into battle for the greater good of his country. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa's rugby team as they make their historic run to the 1995 Rugby World Cup Championship match.

While Invictus is a great sport story as well as an inspiring portrayal of an important historical moment, I was especially touched by what I learned about Nelson Mandela himself. Mandela came to the presidency after spending almost 27 years in jail. He lived in a small cell and did hard physical labor. Much of his time was spent in isolation. He said that was when he wanted to give up, when he was tired beyond tired, and feeling hopeless, he chose to “stand instead of sit”.

When asked how he endured the years in prison, he said that he read the poem titled Invictus as often as he could. Invictus means “the unconquered”. Mandela said that the last two lines of the poem kept him going:

I am the master of my fate…I am the captain of my soul

When finally released from prison, Mandela went on to initiate the small steps it takes to change peoples’ attitudes and forge a new direction for the country. He led by being a model, by treating others as he wanted to be treated, by inspiring others to discover their greatness by looking deep into himself and finding his own potency, power and strength.

"By finding his own potency, power and strength....".

What a grand vision for our addiction center alumni programs: to offer activities and provide opportunities that would guide our alumni to rediscover their potency, power and strength.

Do you think this is a viable goal for our alumni programs?


Lorie Obernauer

Alumni Coordinator at CeDAR (Center for Dependency, Addiction & Rehabilitation, University of Colorado Hospital

Lorie Obernauer


Lorie Obernauer, PhD, is the Alumni Coordinator at CeDAR (Center for Dependency, Addiction...

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