I remember in September of 2013 when my cell phone rang with a 612 area code. I answered and was greeted by Steve Plascencia. The excitement I felt in that moment cannot be described. Both my parents were alumni of the University as undergraduates, my father was also an alumnus of the medical school and family medicine residency program at St. John’s hospital in St. Paul. My childhood centered around Gopher sports; football, hockey, basketball, baseball, soccer, cross country, track and field, and others. Competing in maroon and gold with the block M on my chest was my single highest aspiration from the time I can remember. The opportunity to run for Plaz, for the Gophers, and for my home state, was certainly a dream come true.

I had what some might consider a disappointing athletics career, but I do not. I battled injuries; brief glimpses of success scattered amongst hours spent in the training room. Nonetheless, those were the greatest four years of my life. I was blessed to have met Roy Griak, to have been mentored by Plaz, and to form the closest friendships I could hope to have. The support I received from Plaz was incredible. His goal every day was to find a way for me to be successful, no matter the obstacle I was facing.

On my official visit back in 2013, I sat with Roy in his office, while he explained to me that my time at Minnesota would be about more than races and times. Those achievements would come, I would train hard, and I would become faster. More important to him though, I would mature. I would become a man; someone the University would be proud to say graduated from Minnesota. Someone who would be a leader in my community. Someone with character.

My experiences prepared me in invaluable measures for my future career. I am now a third-year medical student at the Medical College of Wisconsin, I will be graduating and applying for general surgery residency programs one year from now to continue my medical education. This will be a demanding field, one that I am certain I will excel in thanks in no small part to my experience as a Division 1 athlete at the University of Minnesota.