Lending a Helping Hand

Sept. 24, 2013

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By Noe Pickrell

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - A superstar on and off the field, Lianne Maldonado makes the most of her minutes in every aspect of her life. From her involvement with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) to protecting UCF's net on the soccer field, Maldonado has made efforts to impact not only her teammates, but also people all over the world.

In May, Maldonado joined Knights Without Borders on a trip to Panama to help build strong families for children in orphanages. Knights Without Borders is a program designed to give students service-learning experiences in underprivileged countries. Maldonado describes the experience as one that changed her outlook on life.

"We are so privileged, and we take for granted the simple things," Maldonado explained. "It really put everything in perspective for me. Being of Puerto Rican descent, I've seen similar areas of poverty, but going to another country and seeing it firsthand really gives you a new appreciation."

She laughs when remembering a certain family, a family that was able to teach her more about having an uncorrupted love for life and pure compassion for one another than anything she has ever experienced.

"My favorite thing about Panama was that I got really close to one particular family in the orphanage," Maldonado said. "There were two brothers and a little sister, and it was so eye-opening the way they (the two boys) took care of their little sister. They looked out for each other and knew they were family, like one time the baby sister was running around, and she tripped and fell, and it was so adorable how the brothers ran over and picked her up, wiped her knee and gave her a kiss on the forehead."

It is the same compassion Maldonado and her teammates show for one another.

Maldonado serves as a role model on and off the field. She has been an active member of SAAC for the past two years, and says that her time with the group has taught her indispensable life lessons about time-management and hard work. As a result, her teammates and athletics staff hold a tremendous amount of respect for her.

"She leads in ways that sometimes I don't even think she's aware of, but she also leads in ways that are very conscious - what I call modeling the behavior," assistant athletic director for student services Keith Embray raves about Maldonado. "She will never ask somebody to do something she won't do herself. I think that is arguably one of her greatest traits."

Maldonado is a senior, studying interpersonal-organizational communications. She is from Clifton, N.J., where she began seeing her first success in soccer. Earning four varsity letters and taking her high school team to county, state and regional tournaments, she is a promising athlete with unrelenting motivation. She transferred to UCF from Maryland and has since helped the women's soccer team enjoy great success, including a conference championship title and another trip to the NCAA Championship a year ago.

Maldonado takes advantage of everything she learns off the field to make herself a better teammate and stronger athlete, and although her journey is still beginning she says she is happy with how far she has come.



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