Culture

Siena Became A Mother In College Then Graduated Magna Cum Laude

After an unexpected pregnancy, she kept running all the way to graduating with high honors.

I ran cross country and track throughout high school and college, landing on the varsity teams at Linfield College. After my freshman year I unexpectedly became pregnant while in a dead-end relationship. I decided to keep my baby and complete my degree while continuing to run. It seemed unlikely I could juggle single motherhood, school and collegiate sports but running actually made the first two easier. I reaped the physical benefits but it was the intangible ones that proved to be my salvation.

I graduated Magna Cum Laude, and my senior year I studied abroad in Costa Rica with my toddler. That same year I set a school record in the 5000-meter and 10,000-meter races and placed third at Conference in the 10,000 meters. My support system of friends, family, teachers and coaches was deep and relentless. I felt incredibly fortunate to have amazing people surrounding me and my son. The least I could do in return was give my best, ensuring that their time, energy, resources and patience was not all for naught.

While running is physically demanding, it can also be an agonizing mental game. Each race is a test of willpower. Running improved my self-discipline, and I applied that to my overly full schedule. It cleared my head and refocused my priorities and energy. It decreased my stress, giving me perspective and pumping endorphins when things seemed bleak.

I secured an internship my junior year that led to my current position with Microsoft Global Security. I completed my first marathon in October in 3:32 and have run 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons and even a couple Ragnar relays. My little boy, Blaise, is now almost five and has shown an interest in running, too! I’m hooked—I plan to run well into old age, forever thankful.