Alumni Story: Defining your Life

Meet Francesca, an SRLA alumni, who shares how our program impacted her future.

Q: Where did you run with Students Run LA (what group)?

A: I ran with Rosemont Middle School in 2008 and 2009, and graduated high school in 2013. My leader was Terry Parker.

Q: Why did you join SRLA?

A: It was a dream of mine to be part of the SRLA program. I used to watch students run and always wanted to do it myself but because of age, I was not allowed to. So, as soon as I started middle school I signed up for the program. I always wanted to do a marathon and this was a great way to have support, guides, and a place to go after school.

Q: Do you remember what training was like as a SRLA participant? Do you have a favorite SRLA memory?

A: As a SRLA student training was fun. I LOVED every moment of it. I loved having our chant before starting and the pep talks before we had practice or a race. My favorite part was receiving a pair of shoes to run in. I remember holding that pair of shoes and just being so thankful. SO many times it was hard to wake up in the morning on a Saturday to run but with the support of the other members. I dedicated my time towards accomplishing this goal.

Race day was a moment that I will never forget. I can still remember the feeling of wanting to finish so badly that I knew in my heart there was no other option but to finish. I remember my coach telling us that after finishing this race no one can ever take the metal or the accomplishment away from us, just like a high school diploma or a college degree, we worked hard for this moment and we are capable of achieving it. I remember how much I enjoyed every step of the way and how even at the moments I wasn't sure how I was going to finish, I remembered those words and I kept going.

Q: Do you remember any specific challenges training as a student?

A: During my time of training, my parents were having a hard time paying the bills. My dad lost his job and we were declaring bankruptcy so it was a hard time in my life and I really relayed on running as my escape. SRLA was a program that allowed me to participate without the pressure of having to pay to run. The running shoes, clothing, and races that were provided by the program allowed me to believe in my self. I will forever be thankful for this program.

Q: What are you doing now?

A: Currently, I am finishing college as first-generation student with a degree in Biology with an emphasis in organisms. I am applying to medical school along with other programs and trying to achieve my dream of becoming a doctor.

Q: What lessons did you learn in SRLA that you still use today, if any?

A: I learned so much from this program. I learned that life is hard and we are going to having so many different circumstances that will not define us but will challenge us so it is up to us if we are going to allow it to determine our future and give up or if we are going to face the challenge and overcome it for greatness. In running we called this the "wall", but in life, we call it "failure". I learned that running a marathon or finishing college is something no one can ever take away from you, it is something you accomplished. I learned that no small act of kindness went unnoticed. I still remember the strangers who encouraged me while running the marathon and called me by name, yes the bib was a giveaway.

Q: Do you still run?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you have any advice for current SRLA students, related to life and or running?

A: My advice to you is that you are capable and life is going to be hard. You are going to have a lot to overcome, but don't give up and don't allow the life circumstance to discourage you from coming back and running.

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to share?

A: Lean on each other, SRLA is a great program, utilize it and enjoy every step of the way.

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