Whether he’s soaring through his slopestyle competitions or working in the lab as a pre-medical student at Westminster College, professional snowboarder and college student Brolin Mawejje aims to be the first ever Olympic snowboarder to compete under an African flag.
Regardless of whether Mawejje places in the Olympics, his ultimate goal is to become an orthopedic surgeon. Mawejje snowboards five days per week and attends pre-med classes two days per week. After finishing college next fall, Mawejje will focus full time on snowboarding for the next three years until the Olympics.
“I try my best to focus 100 percent of my energy on the task at hand. So when I am snowboarding, I am not thinking about school and vice versa,” wrote Mawejje in an email to The Phillipian.
The documentary “Far From Home,” directed by Galen Knowles, tracks Mawejje’s life as he moved from Uganda to the United States in his journey to become Uganda’s first Olympic snowboarder. Mawejje premiered his film for the Andover community last weekend. After the premiere, Mawejje and the director stayed to answer questions about the film and Mawejje’s aspirations and journey.
“Two years ago when we started this film project, the Olympics seemed like a far away dream. When we released the first teaser for ‘Far From Home’ almost 18 months ago we were blown away by the support. As the production of the film went on, we we’re able to travel to Uganda and meet with the Ugandan Olympic Committee. They were all extremely supportive of my Olympic aspirations and it made me realize that this actually might be possible,” said Mawejje.
Born in Uganda, Mawejje grew up impoverished in a household with an abusive father. His mother, however, moved to America in search of a better life and shortly thereafter, bought a plane ticket for Mawejje to follow her. Moving to the United States at age 11, Mawejje experienced trouble adjusting to a new life and new world of academics. After receiving virtually no support from his mother, Mawejje was taken in by his friend’s family. At age 16, Mawejje and his new family moved to Jackson Hole, WY., a snow-sports paradise.
“The first friend I made in the US was a skateboarder and snowboarder, and he took me snowboarding for the first time. It was the first place where I felt like I could shut off my brain and just live in the moment. I wasn’t worried about my home situation or getting bullied at school. I was just living,” said Mawejje.
Heading into the Olympics, Uganda did not have a winter sports team or any presence in the winter games. Mawejje himself created the Ugandan Ski Federation in order to compete under the Ugandan flag.
“I want to snowboard for Uganda in the Olympics because I feel that it can inspire another kid in similar circumstances as I was in to go after his dreams and ignore the people who tell them otherwise,” said Mawejje.
After the Olympics, Mawejje plans to attend medical school for another four years this coming fall. His ultimate goal is to be able to return to Uganda as a doctor to improve the health care system in East Africa and construct his own hospital where he can take the best aspects he learned from the American medical system, implementing these facts in Uganda.
“For the last four summers I’ve been working at Massachusetts General Hospital doing research in neuronocology, so I am very interested in that field. But have also been fascinated by sports medicine and orthopedic surgeries. I think time will tell as I enroll in medical school after the Olympics, but regardless I will be a surgeon,” said Mawejje.
Mawejje has competed in the Rip Curl Pro international series in Argentina and took home 7th in the World Collegiate University Games in Italy. Also, Mawejje has been involved in the Revolution Tour series which took place in Mammoth this year.
“I try to take it all one day at a time and have my long term goals. When I’m snowboarding I want to progress everyday to get closer to my ultimate goal for the Olympics. If any serious injury happens, I’ll use the money we raise towards med school and the foundation that is supporting our plans in Uganda, the FuturePositiv Project,” said Mawejje.