Senior Story: Keep Moving

Two years ago, I pulled a muscle during an 18-mile race. My ankles felt like they had five-pound weights attached and the pain was excruciating. Although I finished the race, I was behind. I wanted to quit Students Run Los Angeles. I feared another injury and didn’t want to be vulnerable. I voiced my concerns to a coach and he told me that reaching my goals is all about perspective.

My mind can easily give me reasons why I should give up, he said, but I should ignore that doubt, take it one step at a time, and keep moving forward.

After I completed my first marathon, I received an SRLA shirt with the slogan “Training for a Marathon, Training for Life.” Completing multiple marathons has been an emotional rollercoaster, but the experience had its highs and lows -- just like life.

I realized that the mental fortitude required to run long distances is the same skill needed to completing my education. If I get a low grade, or don’t understand a concept in class, I need to change my perspective and take advantage of the resources available to me. This has influenced me to strive for more in my education. It is not enough just to graduate high school and go to college, I want more.

I now think of my educational journey as a race. If I walk the entire race it will take me longer to reach my goal. If I jog or run the majority of the race, there is no way I can’t succeed.

In running there is always room for improvement, and the same can be said about my academics. I can always improve my understanding of a subject, whether it’s science or English. Running also taught me the importance of self care. I grew aware that I needed to stay healthy by avoiding junk food to have the stamina for long stretches of miles. I don’t drink or do drugs. Instead, a jog clears my head and is a healthy way for me to relieve stress.

SRLA helped teach me that I can always set my goals higher and aim for more out of life. I am not only the first in my family to graduate from high school, but I’m the valedictorian of my high school class. I am not only going to college, I will be going to a competitive university.

I know more challenges are ahead. College will allow me to learn more about the world, and hopefully, help change it for the better. I know that not only the physical benefits I have gained through SRLA will be valuable for college, but the mental skills I have attained will allow me to accept setbacks as challenges.

Aurora is a 2019 SRLA Scholarship recipient and will be sure to use it as she attends UC Santa Barbara this fall. To make a donation to support the next class of SRLA runners to help them work towards their goals like Aurora did, please click here.

Christine Pajak