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Lightweight Grit, Teamwork and Resilience: Amanda's Journey

Updated: Jul 21, 2020

I’m a first-generation high school graduate and first-generation college graduate. My parents came to this country as refugees and worked 12-hour days at manufacturing jobs until I went to college to give me the best life they could.

Even though I had always wanted to be part of a sports team, I never did sports in high school - sports required time, money, and an understanding that my parents didn't have. School was the one thing they asked of me, so I made sure to work as hard as I could, to make their sacrifices worthwhile.

When I got to Stanford, it seemed everyone had a thing, a sport, a talent - and by the time senior year rolled around, I’d come to conclude that sports was just something that I’d never be a part of. I had been training on my own with friends when I decided to give the lightweight rowing walk-on program I had already heard about a try. When would I ever get the chance to train with and learn from world-class athletes and coaches again?

It was one of the best decisions I ever made. The team took a chance on me, a senior walk-on, because it saw me as a person who wanted to grow, and that was the team's purpose. Not profits, not revenue - but the growth and development of people who seek it. To this day, I carry with me the lessons I learned from being on this team with these incredible women. I learned about resilience, teamwork, and pushing my personal limits. I was able to be a part of something that was previously entirely inaccessible to me, and it's painful to think that future students will not have this same opportunity.

-Amanda So, Walk-On Class of 2015

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