Alumni Feature: Meet Jessica!

Q: Where did you run with Students Run LA? What years did you participate? Who were your leaders?

A: I started my SRLA journey as an 8th grader (2002-2003) at Mulholland Middle School. I admit it was not something I really understood, I recall Coach Sampson asking me as a 6th and 7th grader to join, and I thought to myself I would try it for one year and see how it went. Let me tell you, it changed my life.

Q: Why did you join SRLA?

A: I will admit I joined because Coach Sampson convinced me to. He was my P.E teacher and he picked up on my liking for running. I was one of the very few students who liked our one mile time trials every few weeks; it was easy for me and I actually enjoyed running. So that liking helped persuade me, and also the fact that my parents both worked long hours and I would have to wait after school for one hour until my parents picked me up. I always saw the SRLA kids practicing after school. As I reflect back, it only seemed natural that I would eventually participate in this program and I am very glad that I did.

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

A: My fondest memories as a new runner was just being excited to run weekend races and to get to hang out with my friends. I remember seeing that yellow school bus as I pulled up to school and was excited to see everyone, but most importantly I was always excited to come home with a medal and show my family what I had accomplished. It seemed like such a huge deal for me at the time, and those were my first lessons about perseverance, dedication, hard work, and accomplishing goals.

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

A: As I continued running with the SRLA program into high school , the biggest challenge was balancing my schedule as a honor student and a cross country/track athlete while still dedicating time for SRLA. After my first marathon in middle school I understood how much more training I needed to do, so therefore extending my training time was difficult and painful! However, those long days and being an SRLA student really helped improve my work ethic, time management, and mindset. I learned that I really could DO ANYTHING!!

Q: What are you doing now?

A: After high school I got recruited to run Cross Country and Track & Field for Whittier College. I graduated in 2011. I then pursued my dream to become a Physical Therapist and graduated from graduate school in 2015 with my Doctorates in Physical Therapy. I am now 28 years old and a Doctor of Physical Therapy for Kaiser Permanente and currently working towards my specialty in sports rehabilitation. Last year I started my own website where I provide information to runners on injury prevention and proper training, and I am the Sports Education Editor for the PhysioU application.

Running is still a huge passion of mine and I run cross country with the New Basin Blues team during the season. I ran the LA Marathon for the 8th time this year!

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

A: SRLA has taught me so much. Out of all the amazing things I stand by the fact that it really taught me to strive for excellence. I developed the mindset of always wanting to be better and run faster each race. In order to accomplish that I had to take care of myself, dedicate time to training, push myself even on days that I didn’t want to. All those things translated over into other aspect of life, mainly education, and that is a fundamental reason as to why I have accomplished all my goals thus far.

-YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT if you have the vision and the drive.

Q: Do you still run?

A: I have continued to run since my first race as an 8th grader. Running is part of me, and thus far has strongly been part of my identity. It doesn’t necessary give me purpose but it brings happiness, clarity, and strength to my life. I will run until I can’t physically do it anymore.

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

If I could give you, or young Jess, advice it would be to STOP LIMITING YOUR POTENTIAL. You are capable of so many great things, so do not let people bring you down. If there is the slightest idea of doubt, brush it off and continue to fight and work hard. Surround yourself with dreamers, doers, and thinkers.

Join alumni as they celebrate the impact SRLA had on their life at SRLA PRESENTS The UnitedLA 5K on June 10 at Griffith Park. Register today! To share your alumni story, click here.