Special to the Union
COLLEGE OF THE REDWOODS – Growing up I felt my options were college or the Navy. It wasn’t until I started receiving recruiting letters from colleges that offered to pay for my education, if I ran on their track team, that it really clicked. My choice was college.
When I was younger I was a chief petty officer of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. It’s a youth leadership development program that gives high school students an opportunity to experience what the military offered without having to actually be in the military.
The military seemed like a possible future for me. Then, in my senior year, I received more than 30 letters from colleges that offered me scholarships, invitations to check out their school, and other encouragement to run at their college.
I chose College of the Redwoods. I remember I was worried that I wouldn’t be successful with my hearing loss and short-term memory loss, as well as my learning disabilities. Could I actually be a student? I wanted a college that was dedicated to helping me succeed, willing to help me pass classes, willing to help me improve as an athlete. I wanted to grow both physically and mentally.
It turned out that deciding to run in college was the best thing I ever did. I’ve found a family, created a new name for myself, and found new opportunities that I don’t think I would have otherwise. At College of the Redwoods, I’ve been a two-time qualifier in state, I hold a school record, and with my coach, I’ve changed the way the people view competing at a junior college.
I still volunteer with the Sea Cadet Corps. This winter I signed up for the STEM Robotics class that they offer, and I hope to help convince these current cadets that college is very important even if they are in the military.
I also still receive letters from four-year universities that want me to compete for them. Sometime soon, I will choose one of them and will continue to compete while I finish earning my bachelor’s degree.
Maria Overton is a student-athlete who is studying business at College of the Redwoods. She is one of the students documenting her college experience on social media with Get Ready Humboldt. Find more at GetReadyHumboldt.com.