By: Colleen Carney, sophomore, cross country and track and field

Being a Division I student-athlete is a privilege. Less than three-percent of girls who run cross country in high school earn the opportunity to run at the Division I level.

With the privilege of being a student-athlete in college, a lot of sacrifice is required with your time and sometimes your opportunities because of practice, meets and travel.

At Richmond, the opportunities granted to you to succeed as both a student and an athlete are second to none and it’s something I don’t take for granted.

This past December, two of my teammates (Eryn Mills and Ave Grosenheider) and I had the chance to travel to Italy and spend a week exploring an entirely new culture with our classmates.

Eryn, Ave and I are a part of the Sophomore Scholars in Residence program, which grants second year students at the University of Richmond a unique learning experience. It’s a year-long program that truly gives us an incredible chance to learn from not only professors, but different cultures and our own classmates.

I’ve always had a desire to go abroad, but I knew that with being a student-athlete, the chance to do that would be slim because of the time required by our sport, but here at Richmond, we can still win championships and explore the world.

During our week in Italy, we explored the towns of Verona and Venice and learned the culture, history and architecture that made this country so beautiful.

Sidenote: Eryn, Ave and I got a chance to go for a run around Verona and we didn’t get lost!

There’s a quote that we’ve talked about in our SSIR program:

“Why do we go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” – Terry Pratchett – A Hat Full of Sky

As a society, it’s easy for us to get caught up in our own little world and only what’s happening around us. But it’s important for us to step into the cultures and everyday experiences of those not only around the world, but also those in our own country.

The opportunity to see a different culture and experience a whole new world is something that will have a lasting impact on me and I can’t thank the University of Richmond enough for giving me the chance to succeed both in athletics with championships and academically with learning opportunities that are second to none.