As a third-year athletic student, I have begun to reflect on my motivation for running. I started running in middle school purely because of curiosity. My oldest brother ran in high school and college, so I decided to follow in his footsteps. 

Once I entered high school, though, I became aware that this was one way to afford college, which motivated me to run faster. My two older brothers were attending college by then, and my parents were financially assisting them. 

Since I was going to be a first-generation college student, I made it my duty to relieve my parents’ stresses about my college tuition and expenses. I constantly reminded myself during races that “this is my way to do more for them,” which helped push me. This was how my passion for running was driven.

Since my athletic scholarships only pay for about a quarter of my tuition, I still worry about the future of paying for college. Don’t get me wrong; I am extremely grateful to be able to have these scholarships to help me pay for college. But there are sacrifices I’ve made for it. As a recipient of athletic scholarships, I constantly worry about balancing sports with my academic work, which is a worry not all students have. 

Further, coming from a culture that emphasizes the importance of getting a job that pays well, the pressure is more intense. Before even setting my mind on a specific college, I had to make the choice if I wanted to pursue music or sports. I was deeply devoted to orchestra during high school and my hope was to continue this in college. I even thought about becoming an orchestra teacher. However, due to the orchestra not being able to provide as much as I’d hoped compared to athletics, I had to let this dream go. Music was one of my deepest passions, so having to leave it behind was devastating.

On top of that, I also had to make the choice to commute. Financially, it would have been extremely difficult to afford housing especially since I still had books and other expenses to worry about. To this day, I continue to commute because even all my other scholarships, do not come close to covering housing. This is the reality of many student-athletes.

As time has passed, I still navigate this struggle of choosing my passions, but my decisions are persistently motivated by money. Money has had a life-changing influence on my life, especially when it came to the career I chose, the passions I decided to pursue and the ones I had to leave behind. As someone who grew up worrying about how money can impact my life on a daily basis, it can be difficult to choose my passions based on what I want and not what I need. I have let passions go due to worrying about whether it could provide enough financially, even though I was deeply devoted. 

When it came to running, my motivation started with the financial benefits I hoped to receive in the future. Yes, there are other factors that influence my passion for running now. But I have the privilege to earn a scholarship to do this, and that impacts me and the decisions I make to continue to have this privilege. Of course, money cannot buy happiness, but it has relieved and added stress that has impacted me greatly.