The “Track Rookie of the Year “shares how serving as captain of the UMassD Cross Country and Track teams helped her realize she can accomplish any goal or dream, despite the global pandemic.
“My leadership experiences have prepared me for future career opportunities by showing me how to keep my eye on the bigger picture,” says Taylor Walsh, a bioengineering major. The Groveland, MA native is captain of the Cross Country and Track teams at UMass Dartmouth. Taylor entered the team as a freshman with an attitude of simply loving to run. In just a few months, after gaining much more knowledge on the competitive sport, she exceeded her own expectations by winning the Indoor Conference Women’s 1000m race and being named Track Rookie of the Year. “It was this race that marked a significant turning point in my running career. From then on, I was determined to learn more and continue to grow as an athlete and push myself to new limits.”
By her junior year, she had one goal in mind: to break the school record for the indoor 800m. “My drive and determination to see myself reach new limits I never thought possible brought me to achieve this goal and broke the record by two seconds,” she says. As captain, Taylor says leading her team has helped to build an environment that strives for reaching new limits no matter the circumstances. “Serving as captain has given me a new perspective on what it takes to make a strong team. After seeing my team come together, especially for the first time after a year at home due to the pandemic, it reminded me of the power of what positive energy and encouraging voice can do to keep us moving forward towards our goals.”
In between focusing on track and her studies, Taylor decided to complete an internship with the start-up company, Sea Street Technologies. “I interned for them two summers in a row. At the time I was enrolled as a computer science major.” After speaking with some of her track teammates and faculty advisors, she discovered the world of bioengineering and switched majors. She says some of her best experiences were in classes taught by Dr. Laura Hanzly, a full-time lecturer at the university. “Her teaching style was very engaging and opened my mind to all the different career paths I could take with my degree. I was always motivated to grasp a deeper understanding of the different concepts I learned in her courses.”
The combination of her experiences has affected her outlook on future career opportunities by teaching her to trust the process. “Completing my undergraduate career during a pandemic has thrown many curve balls to the original path I sought out. However, I have chosen to be optimistic about the future and realize that I am not alone in the journey of navigating the professional world in a global pandemic.” Taylor also says her leadership role during a time of many unknowns has helped better prepare her in ways I would have never expected. “Leading and running as a collegiate athlete for the Cross Country and Track teams have greatly shaped my experience at UMass Dartmouth. My coaches have taught me, through their intensive training and active involvement, that I am capable of more than I could have ever thought,” she says.