Step Up for Scholars 2022: Jonathan Lu

Blog, Step Up for Scholars | 08/11/2022

Welcome to Step Up for Scholars, the second event in the 2022 Pat’s Run Challenge Series! We’re celebrating all 14 classes of Tillman Scholars over the next 14 days. Each day, we’ll share a story from one of our scholars to inspire you to push a little harder tomorrow in your step challenge. Today, we bring you 2020 Tillman Scholar Jonathan Lu discusses how empowering saying “no” can be, allowing your most present and best self shine through. Check out Jonathan here:

I’m 2020 Tillman Scholar Jonathan Lu, and I want to thank you for participating in the Step Up for Scholars Challenge. I also want to share with you the importance of learning how to say no in the hopes that you will feel more empowered to actively balance family, friends, work, and academic obligations during my selection year. I was completely task saturated, but I believed I could do whatever the world asked of me. As a father, friend, active duty service member, volunteer firefighter, ICU Critical Care medic, full-time doctoral student, graduate teaching assistant I was the go-to Yes Man and it was completely unsustainable. Something had to give, and when it did, it exacted a tremendous cost on my well-being and upon those I held closest to me.

Since then, I’ve learned how to give myself permission to say no. Through mindfulness practice, I’m learning how to be more purposefully present in the moment with acceptance and non-judgment. I am setting healthy boundaries that make my family, work, social, and academic domains more discreet and balanced and along the way I’m discovering a better version of myself. We all know your very best is yet to come, but your very best future does not have to come at great cost to your health, well-being, and meaningful relationships. Your present self is just as worthy and deserving of all three. You deserve it now considering all the wonderful things you’re going to achieve.

Want to join the challenge? It’s not too late! Register by Aug. 14 at and you’ll get a commemorative t-shirt and hat.