While the Dolphin Network spent the month of October posting about all the Homecoming festivities (all of which turned out great, based on the pictures), there were other events going on throughout the campus that we didn't get a chance to cover and talk about.
One of those was the latest in the ongoing Alumni Speaker Series. October's speaker was JU standout athlete Natasha Harvey (Class of 09), who spoke to friends and family of the JU community about her successes and struggles throughout her career (much like Class of '08's Chris Carter will be doing on November 10th).
The Dolphin Network had a chance to speak with Natasha following her event to ask some additional questions about how JU has played a role in her past, present and future.
1. You have always said that you remain happy with your choice to attend JU, despite having the opportunity to attend larger schools. Can you describe the process you went through in making the decision and how JU ended up on top?
The recruiting process was a very stressful time for me. I was heavily recruited my senior year by various schools across the country. Some big, some small. Some public, some private. Some far, some near. One thing was consistent, they were all offering the same thing: a full scholarship. After my third official visit, I thought I knew for sure what school I wanted to attend....and it wasn't JU! My coaches along with my mother decided to have an 'intervention'. During this 'intervention' they challenged me to identify my needs and wants. Through that process, I realized that I would be setting myself up for failure on many levels if I chose to attend this other university. That night I decided that Jacksonville University could provide an atmosphere conducive for learning, a Track and Field program that had untapped potential, and the opportunity for me to flourish as an individual. So I committed and haven't regretted since.
2. You were invited to train at the Olympic Training Center, an honor for any athlete. What was the experience like and what athletic and non-athletic knowledge did you take from your time there?
Being invited to train at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California was an experience that I will never forget for many reasons. It was an honor to be able to tell people that I was training for the 2012 Olympic Games at what is said to be one of the elite programs in the country. Unfortunately, it wasn't the program for me. At first listen, people question how this could be, but for me it was a realization that I had to accept. The things that led to such a successful Track and Field career at JU were non-existent. Yes, it was a beautiful facility. Yes, we ate the healthiest food possible. Yes, I was surrounded by Olympians. But was I happy? No. I didn't feel like I was giving myself the best possible opportunity to challenge for a spot on that 2012 Olympic Team, and after all, wasn't that the whole reason I was there? So, in June of 2010 I left.
3. We all know about your athletic achievements as a Dolphin, but many may not know that you also were named “Outstanding Exercise Science Student” at your graduation and are currently working on your Masters at JU. What area of expertise are you focusing on and what are your career goals?
Currently, I am in the Sports Management and Leadership Master's Program at JU. When I received my undergraduate degree, I thought I was done with school! My heart was set on preparing for the next Olympic Games and that was it. But during my time at the Olympic Training Center, I noticed that I actually missed school. I missed being in a learning environment. I missed going to class, having intelligent conversations, challenging myself to do better. Once I was offered the opportunity to return to JU, I decided that Sports Management and Leadership would be the best fit. In the future, I can see myself working in collegiate athletics, specifically Track and Field, and I believe that both my undergraduate and Masters degrees will set me apart from the rest.
4. You have been open about your initial struggles academically when transitioning into college. As a current part of JU’s Student Athletic Academic Recovery (STARR) Program, what advice do you offer to student-athletes - in high school or college - that may be struggling to maintain their GPA?
Everyday I challenge the student athlete's in the STAAR program to look inside themselves. Find out what the heart of the matter is. The truth is we were all purposely created different! So, what has worked for me in the classroom may not work for others. So, it is important that each person knows how they best learn, what motivates them, what their strengths and weaknesses are, then we can figure out a plan to achieve success. One thing I would tell every student though is to use your resources. That means go see your instructor if you are struggling, set up an appointment with the tutoring center, form study groups with your friends. Remember that your school wants you to succeed, but you have to want success too!
5. The track and field season starts in just a couple weeks. What are the goals for season?
Track and Field season is approaching rapidly and my goals for this season are a bit different from years past. Currently, I am not training, partly due to an injury and partly due to my new position at JU. Everyday at 3pm, I get to leave the office and head to the track for practice. Technically, I am a coach, but right now I am playing the role of observer/motivator. Trying to learn from the coach that taught me so much and motivating the current athletes to challenge themselves everyday. So this season instead of setting personal achievement goals, my hope is to help influence this championship team in any way I can. If that comes by way of administering a core sessions or timing repetitions, for now I am totally fine with that.
For more information on the JU Speakers Series, CLICK HERE.