My parents worked full-time jobs, owned a farm and had three kids…how they did it all, I’m not sure. Eventually the farm was too much so my parents sold the farm and moved the family to “town”. Growing up in a rural town of about 250 people makes for a fun childhood. We played until the sun went down and our parents never had to worry about where we went because everyone knew everyone.
Life moved at a slower pace, there were less distractions and less anxiety.
Despite the many great positives of growing up in a town like that, there were not many opportunities for advanced academics and sports. In elementary school we had the options of playing softball and basketball but my parents would have to drive us 20-30 miles one way to play most sports. Once we got to middle school and high school there were a few more opportunities and luckily cross country / track fit me well.
The percentage of students from rural areas going on to college after high school graduation is 10-15% less than students who live in suburban areas. There are a few factors that contribute to this —
1. The cost of a college education
2. The cultural shock of moving from a school district with 80 kids / class to a university with 20,000 students
3. You grow up watching your parents making a living that never required an education so it makes it “normal” to do the same
I’m a first generation college student from rural Wisconsin…going to school and running out-of-state was my shot to do something different than everyone around me. It was my way “out”. I didn’t want to run away from my situation, just experience something new. People from this area tend to never leave. It’s a rural town and school district and kids aren’t encouraged or pushed to explore and see opportunities beyond their backyard.
I am not running from where I came from.
Where I came from has shaped me into the runner and woman I am today.
I am the runner who puts their head down and believes that hard work can beat out anyone. I believe that the blue collar mentality and grit I learned from my parents make me tougher than my competitors.
I want to be an example to young athletes in rural areas where opportunities may be limited. I want to show them that there are opportunities out there in the world but it does require you to be uncomfortable and to dream a little.