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Cross country senior balances presidential duties with university Life

Stephen Alexander is currently a senior financial economics major at UMBC who enjoys contributing as much as he can to the university, particularly within the athletic apartment. Alexander, a student athlete who joined the cross country team as a freshman, was drawn to UMBC because it fit the criteria he was looking for during his high school visit: his desired major, an up-and-coming cross country and track team, and the culture he noticed within the athletic department – a group of supportive, non-cutthroat, and friendly athletes, coaches and trainers. 

“I definitely saw UMBC cross country as a program on the rise and one I could contribute to both in terms of actual results and building a culture of sustained success,” Alexander explained.

Now, three years later, he is the president of UMBC’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council, overseeing an organization that helps all of the athletic teams.

“I joined SAAC because I just wanted to contribute as a student athlete and I felt like it had so much potential.” Alexander felt like he had something to offer in terms of his voice and his ideas, and he wanted to move the organization forward just to help out. Seeing what the previous president was doing, he “definitely wanted to be a part of the organization just to interact with other student athletes and to try to help out the community and the school.”

The Student-Athlete Advisory Council, with an executive board of student athletes across a wide range of varsity sports, serves several purposes. Its main role is “enhancing the total student-athlete experience by protecting student-athlete welfare, fostering a positive student-athlete image via community service and providing a forum for student-athletes and institutional representatives to discuss rules governing UMBC, the America East, and the NCAA as a whole.”

Alexander says that the organization can serve as a link between the athletes and the administration. If there is mold in the locker room shower, SAAC can pass this information onto the administration and find a way to take care of the issue.

SAAC’s current initiatives include focusing on the mental health of student athletes, spreading respect among the LGBQT community through Spread Respect Games and participating in community service including the collection of thousands of cans for the Maryland Food Bank through the America East Food Frenzy. This semester’s goal is to collect 10,000 cans. 

SAAC is also an organization that is located at every America East school. The different chapters communicate with each other twice a year to brainstorm and discuss SAAC initiatives and ideas.

As president, Alexander serves as the “organizer and tries to gather SAAC ideas and guide people to get those ideas completed.” With becoming the president of a club arrives the need to balance this role with other aspects of his life, which includes the cross country team, academics and a social life.

Training for cross country is an intensive daily activity, as the team meets for practice every weekday with informal Sunday practices. Alexander shares that he has had to run around 85 miles per week and mentions that these practices are important because “if you’re not improving on a daily level, then you can get left behind.” Meets are spread out throughout each semester; for instance, the cross country season may have five meets in two months, and the track season may have a meet once every three weeks.

Academics wise, he has taken 18 credit semesters and in Spring 2017, he balanced his cross country dedication with his academics and an internship with T.Rowe Price. That semester in particular was a tough one.

“It ended up being a lot to handle.” Alexander went into detail, “I was working [at T.Rowe Price] 18 hours a week, I was taking 18 credits, and I was doing track. I was close to my breaking point with that. Time management was hard … it was pretty much go to work, go to class.”

He has backed off and lightened his current semester as he starts his presidential duties. With an optimistic mindset, Alexander does not regularly become stressed in situations and views his workload and duties as being active rather than being busy. He enjoys his activities which he deems “pretty manageable.” Activities will inevitably overlap, such as projects being due around the time of a meet, but this does not happen often. Being used to the college routine as a senior assists him as well with learning his limits and what he can and cannot do.

Alexander is excited to begin his second officer position within SAAC as president, having first been a social media representative and collaborating with the executive board in previous years.

Referring to working with SAAC, Alexander explained that “It’s definitely something I’m pretty passionate about.”