This past year has been a whirlwind. I have graduated, applied to, been interviewed by, and been accepted to graduate schools, and finished my collegiate track career. Three weeks later, I have just now taken a step back and realized that the life I have known for the past four years is over. This is definitely a day that I now wish had waited another year…or two…to get here.

However, while I would love to spend more time studying at and competing for Western Kentucky University, I leave satisfied. I came to Bowling Green, Ky. seeking a college degree and an opportunity to compete against other college athletes. I did not expect anything else, but I have left WKU with what I came for and so much more.

My experience at WKU led me to learn much more than was required for a degree—I learned life lessons from athletics which will benefit me outside of the track. Having to balance school and sport, I learned how to make the most of every second whether it was in training, studying, meetings, classes, or races and from this, to give all of myself to all that I do.

From my injury-ridden career, I learned the importance in patience and perseverance. From improvements in competition and obtaining desired academic results, I saw the fruits of hard work and was able to further motivate myself. From my professors, I learned to work with people when something comes up. From my coaches, I learned the importance of preparation. And from my teammates, my friends, I learned the most. They would comfort me, humble me, encourage me, listen to me, talk to me, joke with me, be serious with me—they were there for me in whatever way I needed them. From them, I learned to be a better person.

Upon enrolling at WKU, I never thought my undergraduate career and participation in intercollegiate athletics would have the impact on me that it has had. I came to compete against the best (even if it was from quite a distance behind) and earn a degree. I am leaving with a degree, some lifelong friends, and having the opportunity to have raced against conference and national champions. I’m a better person, and better prepared for a life where I am and as the NCAA slogan goes, I am “…going pro in something other than sports.”  
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