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Running Down a Dream: Why I Chose Stony Brook Univeristy

by ericarunsamerica on March 12th, 2013

Hey Stony Brook~

I hope you all have been well during this busy spring semester!

The weeks are flying by—can you believe, midterms are upon us already?

But think; soon you will be relieved of your hard work…sunny days, warm temperatures, and the highly anticipated “spring break” is just around the corner!

For me, this spring will be my SIXTH semester at “The Brook,” and I can hardly believe it! Just three years ago, one would find me at Cold Spring Harbor High School, hard at work preparing my AP Art portfolio: cutting, pasting, and painting my way through the final push of the school year.  However, my mind was largely at ease. Unlike many of my peers, I already knew where I was going to school…

Since my freshman year in high school, they had been piling up.  “They” being: the letters.

Over my four years of high school, starting with the one from Babson College, a stack of forty-plus hand-written pleas from the running teams at a wide variety of private and public universities accumulated in my bedroom; Syracuse, Cornell, SUNY ESF, Georgetown, UNC Greensboro…the list goes on.  I had spent the end of my Junior year through the start of my Senior year in high school flying to and from the various colleges attempting to court me to join their Women’s Cross Country and Track teams.  You see, I am a natural runner—and once I got a taste of the college running life, I knew that was where I needed to be.

I traveled more within the span of those 6 or seven months than I had previously in my entire 17 years of existence.  At Syracuse, it was the never-ending supply of new sneakers and myriad choices of uniform that pulled me in.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for “schwag.” At Wofford in South Carolina, it was the incredible trails, scenic and winding that attracted me (I’m a Cross-Country girl, at heart).  At Cornell—well, I could say at the end of my four years, “I went to Cornell.”

Unlike my high school friends, who had sent in ten or more “Common Apps”—complete with the necessary essays and letters of recommendation—I had only submitted five: Wofford, Syracuse, and Cornell—and, as my “safeties,” Stony Brook Southampton and, here, regular old Stony Brook U.

After ripping open my acceptance letters, I was filled with a sense of excitement.

I had my pick of any school I wanted…

Particularly to my delight, Wofford had offered me a partial athletic and academic scholarship!  From my visit, I had seen that the school had an awesome new Environmental Studies facility, located in an old converted textile mill perched on the banks of a slow moving river.  I figured this was my way to realize both academic and athletic success.  It was an awesome feeling.

I picked up the phone to call my “new coach” to tell him the news; I was ready to be a Wofford “Terrier,” D-1 status.

But then, I stopped.

I looked down, and I saw my Alaskan Malamute, contently snoozing on the floor.

I looked to the left, and I saw my work bag, Wildlife Rehab Manual poking out of the top.

I looked to the right and I saw an almost-finished art piece, a pencil drawing I was working on for my brother, Evan.

I looked in the mirror, and I saw in my heart that I was not ready to leave.

I was not ready to sign away my college career—knowing myself, I put the phone down.

Instead, I decided to choose Stony Brook Southampton for its incredible Marine Vertebrate Biology program—I could live at home, where I was comfortable, and commute to school.  Giving up competitive running, I would have time to work, spend time doing my art, and truly become engrossed in my studies.

Ironically, SB Southampton shut down in the fall of 2010, so I made the choice to attend the original Stony Brook University instead. Three years later, I truly realize that this was the best choice I could have ever made.

Here at Stony Brook, I realized my true passion: writing about the environment.

The professors, courses, and amazing friendships I have forged here at Stony Brook have made the sacrifice to give up competitive running “worth it” for me.  Do I miss it—the sense of team, the thrill of the race?  Sure.

But I also love waking up every morning and being able to walk my dog on the North Shore beaches of Long Island, to visiting my local friends and family, to being able to have a landed a great job, to buy my own car (actually, this is number three!).  Not being on a team has afforded me time to do such things.  Despite giving up my athletic scholarships, I found, upon admittance, that I had actually earned scholarships to Stony Brook, making it, in actuality, the most affordable choice!

Going away would have been fun, and sure, I could have still ran competitively here at Stony Brook—we have an AMAZING team! But instead, I choose to run in my local running team (Nortport Running Club).

Sometimes, I wonder what my life would have been like if I had gone to one of those schools that had sent me those letters…what races would I have won, what friends would I have made?  I had for so long, been convinced that I was supposed to go away to school to run…

Though the thoughts sometimes bother me, upon further examination, I always recognize that such is not my destiny.

Stony Brook is where I belong.

peace. love. run.


Here at Stony Brook, I have been able to bring my dog to school, the famous "Foosa!"

From → Erica

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