June 17, 2024

Crossing your own finish line

Kylie Anicic '24
PennWest Edinboro

Kylie Anicic poses with track event medals and trophies she has earned.Waking up at 4:30 a.m. to go out for a run before a 12-hour clinical shift at the hospital may not be for everyone, but it allowed me to pursue my two passions—distance running and nursing. In May, I graduated from PennWest-Edinboro, and soon I’ll begin my career as a registered nurse on a cardiac stepdown unit at WVU Memorial Hospital. I also plan to pursue my dream of running professionally.

During my senior year at Edinboro, I was one of five women and five men recognized by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference for both athletics and academics. I hold this accolade near to my heart because it encompasses everything I’ve done as a student-athlete. The award also acknowledges my goals and the grit and determination that got me to graduation day.

My higher education journey was a little different than most. In Fall 2018, I was playing on the women’s soccer team at Temple University, but I missed distance running and the joy it gave me. In Spring 2019, I transferred to Towson University to run cross country and track, but I ultimately decided that Division 1 athletics was not for me. I entered the transfer portal for a second time in search of an institution with a rich history and a distance running tradition. In Spring 2021, I made the decision to enroll in the nursing program at Edinboro.

It was a good fit for me academically and athletically. Academically, I was looking for an institution with experienced and knowledgeable faculty, and Edinboro had that. I was also looking for a more personalized classroom experience, and Edinboro had that, too. Small class sizes allowed me to connect with my classmates, and my professors got to know me by name. Athletically, Edinboro offered a positive team atmosphere. Cross country and track were a family, and I didn’t feel like just a number.

I had plenty of support for my transition to Edinboro. My coach at the time facilitated contact with Admissions, the Nursing Department, and NCAA compliance. He was just as involved as I was in figuring out logistics. He really went the extra mile.

Kylie Anicic running in a track meet for PennWest EdinboroThe Nursing Department helped me catch up to the cohort that had started in the fall prior to my transfer. The faculty were wonderful, and they worked with the university to set up an individualized study that winter to get me on track. As an upper-class transfer who had transferred once before, I was able to get on my feet quickly, and my academic advisors were a big help.

Being a nurse is something I’ve dreamed about. My mom and grandmom were both nurses, and I’ve always admired them. It was truly remarkable to see them helping their patients in sickness and in health. I realized I wanted to have similar success and a lifetime of reward helping others just like they did. You know it’s special when one of the most important traits you need to carry in your professional “toolbox” is compassion. Some of the relationships you form will stick with you throughout your life.

Running helped me become a better student in more ways than I can count. Running taught me self-discipline. No one forced me to go on my solo double run or complete my “on your own day” recovery runs. I did it because I want to be the best version of myself that I can be and get the most out of myself. The self-discipline of putting on my shoes, walking out the door, and getting the miles done transferred to academics. No one was forcing me to study. No one was forcing me to go to the library and whiteboard EKG strips for three hours. I wanted to get the most out of myself.

If I could tell my former self and future student-athletes one thing, it would be to trust in your own journey. Life is not meant to be lived in a straight line. If it was, everything would be easy. So embrace the struggles and use them as your keys to success. Take risks and believe in yourself. We all will have our shining moments, but you must be patient and confident that the risk, hard work, and timing will align, and eventually you will cross your own finish line.

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