Outside SMU

Role Models – Everyday Heroes

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I’ve met some very amazing people in my life, and there are some that I want to keep a little closer to me.  These are people that helped shape who I am today, and most importantly, they’re friends!  I find the best role models aren’t celebrities or other famous figures, but rather people that I encounter daily.

In sports, there are a few people who really helped push me and shared how they love the sport of running.  Macala Fifield, my teammate from high school who I’ve mentioned before, is probably the biggest reason I decided to pursue college athletics.  I still talk to Macala whenever I’m in a slump, and just hear about how her season is doing.  Her confidence is extremely admirable in a sport that really tries to wear you down everyday.

 

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Macala and I reunite.  This time, on different teams, and in college! (2016 )

 

Here at Saint Martin’s, I met two teammates that really stand out to me as role models.  Shannon Porter and Nathan Morgan.  You’ve probably heard about Shannon from her incredible accomplishments on the track.  She’s our premier distance runner, a GNAC conference champion, multiple school record holder, and an All-American.  With this resume and talent, you’d expect her to be a fairly intense person.  In reality, she’s on another level of kind and friendly, and loves to be with her team, and we love her too!  While I’m not expecting All-American honors, she is someone I look up to because of her ability to stay grounded to those closest to her, and stay positive and smiling every time I see her.

 

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Shannon rocks her smile with a motivational quote in the SMU Rec Center ( August 2015)

 

Nathan Morgan graduated last year, but I haven’t forgot the way he found a way to keep talking during the hardest workouts and push me when I really needed it.  I also was able to connect with him via our shared love of cross country skiing.  Nathan has taught me to find what you love and hold on to it.  I think Nathan is a person who really knows who he is, and the kind of person he wants to be in life, and I’m so glad to have spent a year with him at SMU.

 

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Nathan loves the great outdoors, as shown here on the beach during cross country team camp (2015)

 

There are also some people that have helped me through my journey to find a career.  In high school, my great friend, Emily Sexton, pushed me into my first student government meeting which was a domino effect that would essentially steer the rest of my years in high school.  She encouraged me to get involved on the state level, giving me my first experiences in public relations and marketing.  Emily is still a close friend and I expect great successes from her in life.

 

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Emily found herself in the area and visited SMU! (2016)

 

Finally, one last role model who I met here at Saint Martin’s.  She should sound familiar because she’s also on the social squad!  Sarah Salvatori was one of the first people I met during my freshman year.  I asked her for advice about choosing a major/minor and she met with me and answered all of the questions I had for her.  Now I’m lucky enough to work in the same office, and I continue to learn from her.  Sarah continues to show how to be professional, but express how much she enjoys her work, though her work!  We will really miss her in the office when she is gone next year.

 

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Sarah and I enjoying our tea, and a day at work in the social squad office! (2016)

 

Role models come from all corners of life, and once you find one, don’t let them go!  Be sure to let them know what they mean to you.  Who knows, you might be a role model yourself!

 

Thanks for reading,

Andrew

My SMU Experience: Expectations vs. Reality

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There is a lot less ramen than I expected…there’s still ramen, just a lot less.

My idea of what I thought college changed a lot based on what I saw and heard as I grew up.  I would say my first impressions of college would be the first time I saw Disney’s The Extremely Goofy Movie.  I figured I’d be heading out with my best friends, driving away from home, getting involved in a sport, and maybe even a fraternity.  In the movie, Goofy ends up following his son Max to college, and I hadn’t even ruled that out at the time.  I love mom and dad, but that is not an option anymore.  Please visit anytime, however!

Later I had learned from movies and tv to expect lots of parties in college, and crazy friends.  That was also inaccurate.  Those opportunities exist, but good friends keep you out of those scenarios, and rather, watch Netflix and make food until the late hours of the night.  A classy alternative.  Coming from a place with no professional sports teams and limited concert options, going to college in the Seattle was a huge eye opener for me.  Fellow social squad member, Lauren Diuco and I, are counting down the days till we can watch games at SafeCo Field again or see the recently crowned Sounders take over CenturyLink Field as the MLS Cup Champions.  I really didn’t consider these options until I arrived at Saint Martin’s.

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Lauren Diuco and I show our support of (King) Felix Hernandez at SafeCo Field

 
Until my teammate in high school signed to run track in college, I hadn’t seen collegiate athletics to be in my future, but I planned to make it a reality, and I did!  Another reality that came true in college stems from another Disney movie, Toy Story 3.  Mom took that one hard watching Andy go to college, and I always thought it was kind of ridiculous until it actually happened to me.  It is crazy hard to say goodbye to your parents, especially when you live far enough away that you’ll only see them a few times a year.  You learn how to stay close, and they love updates and pictures, so make sure you do that.

My family with me at Monroe Catholic High School the day I signed with Saint Martin’s

Reality definitely breaks expectations and that is such a great thing.  Lessons continue to be taken out of the classrooms, and you learn so much more than what you have on your class schedule.  You learn which stereotypes you can break about college students, and create your own experience here at Saint Martin’s.  However, I’d be surprised if you don’t accompany a late night of homework with ramen at some point in your four years…

 

Saints Outside SMU

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Two weeks ago, a group of Saints got off a bus in Seattle and made their way to CenturyLink Field.  The Seattle Sounders, a Major League Soccer team, were playing their last game at home before trying to make the playoffs.  All they needed was a win, and we were there because Campus Life put it together.  The Sounders won 2-1, and since then have won the next two playoff games without allowing a goal.  On October 1st, Residence Life took a group to go see the last home Seattle Mariners game.  They had unfortunately been eliminated from the playoffs the night before, but they were one of the best Mariners teams in recent years, and Saint Martin’s was there to watch them.

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Opening Ceremonies for the Sounder’s final regular season game, and 2-1 win. – Photo by Deveney Dela Cruz, October 2016

 

The location of SMU is really incredible.  Only an hour away from Seattle, and two away from Portland, events are never hard to come by, and SMU is great at getting you there.  Saint Martin’s attendance at a Seahawks game may be many years down the road, that isn’t stopping anyone from throwing together their own residence hall, football party.  These experiences are not limited to sports!

My American Immigration class, taught by Dr. Brian Barnes and Dr. Jamie Olson, took us into the Seattle Chinatown-International District.  I doubt I would’ve made the trip there on my own, but now I’m sure I’ll go back.  We were given a tour of the Wing Luke museum and the historical buildings in the area.  We were also able to try some amazing food!  Another example of an off-campus event would be discounted, or free tickets to the Washington State Fair in Puyallup.

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Snapchat picture of a tasty dessert we discovered while exploring historic Seattle. – October 2016

 

While it isn’t off campus, one great annual event that most students can get involved with is the Saint Martin’s Gala.  The Gala can still provide as a fun distraction from studies and stresses while staying at SMU.  This year, it will be Saturday, November 5th.  The Gala is a fundraiser for student scholarships, hosting wonderful guests every year.  This year, we welcome Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods, and Ligia Karazawa of Eataly Brasil. Last year, we were fortunate to host the cast of The Chew, including Iron Chefs, Michael Symon and Mario Batali.  It’s amazing that we can get such incredible chefs, and personalities on our SMU community to help create scholarships.  This will be my first year attending the Gala as a member of the Social Squad!  If you would like to donate, but cannot attend The Gala, we would welcome a gift that you can give here.

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Chef Mario Batali and I strike a pose at the student reception, preceding the 2015 SMU Gala. – November 2015

 

We’re so lucky to have outlets provided by the school that get us off campus and let us see what else is beyond the Residence Halls and Old Main.  We can spend so much time in study rooms and behind our textbooks that we can forget how important it is to focus on our own self-care, and watch a game, explore a new city, or meet new people.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Andrew

Round 2 at SMU!

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Welcome back, everyone!  I’m thrilled to be back in Lacey for year two of my education at Saint Martin’s University.  There are so many events to look forward to in the upcoming year, and surprises that will become lifelong memories.  I just wanted to check in and update with what has happened since classes got out in May, and what I’m looking forward to in the days ahead.

A little while after returning home to Fairbanks, AK for the summer, my friend Danner Linhart, a Benedictine Scholar and now RA, came up to visit for four days!  We hit the trails in Denali National Park, taking in the sights and wildlife, and even visited Santa in North Pole, Alaska!   I love being able to share what I love about my home with other people.

Danner takes in the view of Denali after a long hike to the top – June 2016

Later in July, another friend of mine, Astrid Serrano, faculty member, Ernesto Chavez, and I traveled to Baltimore, MD and Washington D.C. for the Catholic Relief Services student ambassador conference.  We were able to connect with other student ambassadors and incredible people with amazing stories and experiences.  They will help us to carry out CRS’s goal of ‘Faith. Action. Results.’ in the SMU community with the rice bowl, and beyond.  We also just had a great time exploring a new city in the summer heat.

 

Astrid and I take the podium in the Russell Senate Office Building – July 2016

Since arriving in Lacey, I’ve been through my second year of cross country camp and I’ve been getting closer with my teammates.  We have a great group of freshmen who are joining us this year, and I’m thankful for all of them!  I will be running my one and only cross country meet this year at Willamette University in Salem, OR this Saturday and then I will begin preparing for track season.

 

Just messing around before our home cross country race with freshman, Seth Chism, and senior, Mitch Hughey – September 2016

I’m excited to be putting in more time with the Social Squad this year, while staying busy with our student newspaper, The Belltower, and my position with Astrid as a CRS student ambassador.  There will be plenty of great stories to come this year, so follow along with us here at SMU to hear them all!

 

Thanks for reading.

A Trip to Tracktown

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My status on the track team as a freshman sometimes makes me wonder if I will be competing week-to-week.  Sometimes the meet is so exclusive that only three or four athletes will be able to attend.  That is what I had imagined happening on Friday, February 5th, when it came to the High Performance Meet in Portland, Oregon.  I knew a few things about the meet that made me think I wouldn’t be going.  The first was the meet was on a brand new, 200 meter, banked track that they will be using for both the National and World Indoor Championships in Portland later in March.  The second was that there would be Olympian Track Athletes there, and competing.  The last thing, was just in the name: High Performance Meet.  I perform at a high level, but I am no Olympian.  Needless to say, I was thrilled when coach sent me the message that I would be competing that Friday!

We were able to finish the whole day of classes because the meet did not start until 5:30.  However, since the meet was so late it meant that I would be running at 10:30PM!  We left the school at 1:30 and bused down to Portland in two hours.

When the World Indoor Championships take place this March, they will be in the Oregon Convention Center. For now, the track is being kept in a Portland warehouse and is for now known as the Nike House of Track.  Pulling up to the building didn’t really have an exciting feeling about it.  They weren’t kidding when they said that it was just a warehouse.  Nothing flashy about it and I began to have my doubts.   Then we went through the front door.

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House Of Track – Portland, OR (February 2016)

I wasn’t sure what I had just walked into but it was like a living advertisement for Nike, and being the branding/ marketing nerd that I am – I loved it.  The building was dimly lit aside from the track, where the green tread seemed to glow as bright as the looks on our faces.  We claimed a spot in the bleachers and coach gave us our race bibs, where for the first time for many of us, numbers were replaced by our names – just like they are for Olympic athletes.

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“…, numbers were replaced by our names,…”

We got on the track for a few warmup laps and it was crazy thinking that every famous track athlete would be running on this same track, and some would be on it tonight!  After my warm up, I only had to wait for 6 hours before I got to run, so I cheered on my teammates and then I saw my first Olympian arrive.

Fellow social squad member, and sharer of the same first name, Andrew Kier was also at the meet and walked over to me and said something like, “I just held the door for Allyson Felix, and she said thank you, and I’m freaking out!”  Something along those lines.  Allyson Felix has four gold medals at the Olympic Games, and another nine at the World Championships.  Three of us collectively gained the courage to talk to her, and we surprised by how approachable and kind she was to us!

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Lisa Peterson and David Durden with Olympian, Allyson Felix

I was also able to meet a runner, Trevor Dunbar, from Kodiak, Alaska who had just graduated from the University of Oregon and is now running professionally for Nike. It was inspiring being able to meet someone from Alaska who is on his way to making it big in the track world!

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Myself with fellow Alaskan, Trevor Dunbar.

Finally, I met one of my favorite track athletes, Andrew Wheating, another Olympian.  Again, he was extremely approachable and I was able to have a really fun conversation with him!  He was running the individual 800 about an hour later, and I was running the 800 in my relay later that night as well, so I asked him for a bit of advice to think about when my turn came up.

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Andrew and Andrew (Wheating)!

 

The meet was extremely well attended, and they set a capacity limit of 1600 people.  Many of the athletes, including us Saints, had to move to the floor with our gear to make room for the other spectators in the bleachers.  Still, many didn’t have a seat and stood along the outside of the track to watch.

I could tell that these spectators truly loved the sport of track and field, and their energy and excitement spread throughout the rest of the crowd and into the competitors.  This energy is what topped the list of things that made this meet special.  Along with the brand new track, the Nike influence, the higher performance competition, and of course the Olympians and other professional atheletes, I felt a bond with everyone in attendance through the energy in the building.

Oh, and we had a really successful meet on the track!  Full results are on the Track and Field website.  To close out the meet, my distance medley relay (DMR) team placed first with a team of all freshmen and one sophomore!  It was a nice confidence boost for all of us to come away from that meet with a group victory.  The four of us took in that moment before we boarded our vans to head back to SMU.

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Levi Shilter, Myself, Joe Edgecomb, and Austin Miller celebrate our win!

It was a different meet, and unlike any that I had been to before for sure.  I’m thrilled that I met my first Olympians and I sure hope that I haven’t met my last!  I think that it gave the team some positive energy before heading into the GNAC Championships, February 19-20, in Nampa, Idaho.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Andrew