By Jacob Troy Harden ‘24

Who’s to say Brother Rice was going to be what I thought. My life changed more dramatically than I ever could have imagined.

My name is Jacob Troy Harden, a name I have been proud of for a long time. Funny enough, it was the very last part I was most proud of. I loved that name because I always felt that it had weight on it, a type of pride with the reputation I have given myself.

However, Brother Rice changed me. No one knew me when I first entered this school except for an exceptionally small minority.

I never was the type of person to like sports or know anything about them for that matter, so there were times I questioned my path here. However, I was very wrong to question my path.

I went to Brother Rice because it was closest to my house, and also because of a play I once saw at Mother McAuley called “Esperanza Rising” I saw during a school field trip.

After that I wanted to join theater at Mother McAuley after seeing their amazing stage, so you could assume my surprise when I joined Brother Rice’s theater and found only a cafeteria.

However, even though it was just a cafeteria, I learned to love the performance there more than anything else. Being able to have my own audience in a place where I could be as creative as I wanted made me happier than I could ever imagine.

Joining the Brother Rice theater program was the most eye opening experience I’d ever had and opened me into a world of meaning. It helped me realize my purpose in life.

During my time at Brother Rice, I wanted to do 14 different jobs, ranging from a whiskey distiller, an archaeologist, and a member of the Navy, however every time I chose a path, I went right back to acting.

On the night of my second ever play, I was fighting through a limp. I lost my voice to the point that I was screaming just to get it out, and with a hand I thought that I broke on opening night. Everyone was so nervous they were thinking of canceling.

Yet the love from the audience kept me going, and a new passion was found. The moment that changed me most was a conversation between Sean Haggerty and me after the show.

Sean is my best friend and has been for eight years. He was always better than me at something, so it meant a lot when he told me how much he loved my show. He said that “I never thought you could pull it off. It’s a serious role and you nailed it.”

I couldn’t talk about Brother Rice without talking about the mission trips, a true staple of the story and beliefs of Edmund Rice, and they were worth every penny.

Being able to learn about how people with so much less than us live was a life-changing experience, and being able to walk in their shoes was even more amazing.

I am extremely grateful for the places I was able to visit, the people I was able to meet, and the life I was able to experience thanks to Brother Rice.

So yes, back to that ominous title, Life. It’s fun, isn’t it? The mission trips, the friends, the performance, and the people you meet along the way. It’s what molds life into what we have today.

Now I am going to attend the same school as my heroes, Second City, a school where legends like Chris Farley, John Belushi, John Candy, Steve Carell, and Bill Murray are made, just to name a few.

So there really is just one question that should be on your mind: how will you shape your life?