WXC's Alex Ryan recently traveled to St. Lucia to work with children through a Varsity Catholic mission trip
July 1, 2014
The summer is heating up and all across the world Seton Hall student-athletes remain hard at work both on and off the field of play. Today, our Pirate Postcard series returns to help illuminate the exceptional impact that these Pirates are having during their "off months."
Our first correspondence came courtesy of women's cross country junior Alex Ryan, a native of Aurora, Colorado who has spent two seasons on the course for the blue & white. During her debut campaign, Ryan was part of an infusion of energy and talent that helped establish an identity for a young cross country program. As a freshman, she proved to be one of the top performers on the squad, ranking among the top-five on the team in five out of nine appearances.
Ryan delivered three more top-40 finishes this past fall as The Hall continued to improve. Away from the course, Ryan has been a standout as well with a litany of academic honors and accomplishments to her credit that have helped her score a coveted internship position. As a mathematical finance major, she also acts as a Tutor in Residence for the Seton Hall Department of Housing and Residence Life, is an active member of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and was recently elected President of Active Minds, a student advocacy group.
Earlier this summer, Ryan traveled to St. Lucia alongside fellow Pirate Mateusz Brela (Kielce, Poland) of men's soccer as part of a mission trip coordinated by Varsity Catholic; a student-athlete centered division of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS).
Upon her return, she graciously shared the highlights of this transformative experience and detailed her plans for the resto of the summer which include a heavy emphasis on preparation for the upcoming season.
Hey Pirate Fans!
Recently I returned from a mission trip to St. Lucia. I decided to go on this trip because I became close with FOCUS and Varsity Catholic over the years, and so many people had so many great things to say about it. I've traveled a bit, but I've always wanted to go somewhere and really embrace the culture and live it, all while giving back. I heard so much from the SHU missionaries about how rewarding it is to live in a place that's completely different than ours and to see how lucky we are. I wanted to experience that first hand and share my experiences with others, and I'm so glad I did.
When we were there, we visited two different schools: Micoud and PIA. I went to the Micoud School. What we ended up doing was talking to several different classes each day telling them about God's love for us while getting to know them on a personal level as well. Our main goal was to show these kids how much they are loved and how much they should value themselves in the name of God. We got to know them, play sports with them, and really share with them our hardships as athletes, as people, and as children of God. Many of these students come from broken homes and face countless obstacles in their everyday lives. We ended up creating lasting relationships with them (I am friends with a lot of these students on Facebook and Whatsapp) and showing them that they are always valued and loved. We also did some self-reflection, which really compelled me to step back and take a good look at what I wanted to improve in my own life. And of course, we got to see the beauty of St. Lucia! Being immersed in such a beautiful culture gave us an amazing opportunity to have the natives of the country show us its true beauty and what it has to offer.
The most rewarding part of the experience was probably coming back to see the female students on the second day, both in the secondary and primary schools. They immediately remembered me and ran up to hug me (especially the little ones). I was so excited that they wanted to spend more time with me and talk to me about my life. A few of them really opened up to me, and I was so touched that after one day, I became somebody that these girls wanted to befriend and look up to. They began teaching me their own sporting games, telling me more about their lives, and overall, they opened me up to experiencing their culture, and they loved hearing about mine.
This trip really got me thinking about the way I live my life and how I want that to change. Already I've grown closer to God, and I plan to grow closer. Also on this trip, I met the two new FOCUS missionaries for Seton Hall next year, and I'm so excited to work with them and grow even closer to FOCUS. Overall, it just made me strive for more in my life, and now I know that there isn't anything stopping me from living the life I want to live. Honestly, before the trip, I grew outside of the faith, and I started to back away from my responsibilities as an athlete. But this trip taught me how lucky I am to be a Pirate, and I plan to continue to grow closer to God and to challenge myself to be the best runner that I can be.
I believe that I am part of an incredible community at Seton Hall, but being a student-athlete makes me so much more excited about being a Pirate. Not only am I representing the Pirates in my community, but I travel all over representing our university as a proud student-athlete, showing people what Seton Hall is made of. Being an athlete at Seton Hall means knowing your values and what you stand for, and allowing that to be what you compete for. You run for yourself, you run for your team, and you run for everyone out there who has believed in you from the start and continues to support you. This trip reminded me that I have God and about 30 teammates standing behind me, and this is my chance to be true to myself and run for them.
For the 2014 season, all I can ask for is that the team runs together as just that- a team. We've all been calling, texting and e-mailing to make sure that we're all on track with our training (no pun intended), and all I can ask is that we continue to motivate each other. I've also battled quite a few injuries over the past year, but my goal is to move past them and run for my team again and again. We've got some great recruits to welcome in this year, and I'm ready for us to show the BIG EAST who we are when the time comes.
Stay tuned for many more Pirate Postcards on SHUPirates.com throughout the summer.