Returning to School: Seek Inspiration From Athletes - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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August 26, 2016

Returning to School: Seek Inspiration From Athletes

The greatest sources of adversity can lead to the greatest accomplishments. This has been more evident at the 2016 Olympics in Rio than anywhere else; several of the most successful athletes faced terrible circumstances growing up and as young adults. But instead of giving in to despair, they used the hardship as fuel.

Gold medals may not be in your future, but if, like your favorite athletes, you've faced difficult circumstances, you can take inspiration in their remarkable journeys. If they were able to defeat the odds and become renowned athletes, you can also overcome your own adversity and have a successful return to school. Yes, you may face time constraints and academic confusion, but if you keep working hard and rely on Jesus for the rest, you'll emerge with your own version of a medal: a college degree. As you consider taking a leap of faith and returning to college, feel free to draw inspiration from these amazing athletes:

Yusra Mardini

The 2016 Olympics are shining a light on the struggles refugees face worldwide. Yusra Mardini is a member of this Olympics' refugee team, and her story is incredible. She trained as a swimmer in Damascus, but was eventually forced to use her talents to save over twenty lives following the breakdown of an escaping dinghy. She and her sister bravely took the dinghy's rope and swam to shore. Now, she's making her mark as an Olympic athlete.

Chris Barr

Stories of struggle often take place prior to athletic achievements, with athletes overcoming the odds and then living happily ever after. But it's not always that simple.  For Chris Barr, the real problems didn't arrive until after he made a name for himself as a diver. Following a remarkable performance at the European Junior Championships, he suffered a ruptured spleen and was given only a five percent chance of survival. He worked hard and recovered.  He then went on to help win Britain's first diving gold medal in 2016.

Lopez Lomong

One of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Lopez Lomong was abducted as a child and presumed dead. Several kindhearted villagers helped him escape, and he eventually found refuge in the United States. Just one year after gaining US citizenship, he competed in track and field at the 2008 Olympics. He has multiple United States championship titles to his name, but he's most proud of helping achieve the Olympics' goal of peacefully bringing people together.

Simone Biles

When Simone Biles talks about her mom and dad, she's actually referring to her biological grandparents, who took over when her biological mother was unable to provide the quality of care she and her sister required. But while Biles' family situation was not easy, she was able to draw strength from her biological grandparents' support and become a truly great gymnast.

Gabby Douglas

Like Biles, Gabby Douglas endured a childhood that was far from idyllic. Her father left when she was very young, and money was a huge struggle. Her family had to sacrifice nearly everything to secure high-quality gymnastics training. What's more, she faced racism from some of her fellow gymnasts. She held strong, however, and became the all-around champion at the 2012 Olympics. She defeated the odds again in 2016 and made the Olympic team a second time.

Brian Rice

Brian Rice is a name you might not be familiar with, but he exemplifies both the courage to go back to school later in life and the drive to be a successful athlete. At age 43 after a career in the U.S. Navy, Brian enrolled in Geneva College’s Adult Degree Program to pursue a community ministry degree. But what’s also amazing is that since he still had athletic eligibility and a drive to compete, he tried out for the Geneva men’s basketball team. Brian made the cut as a walk-on and played collegiate basketball with and against men half his age. His inspiring story was featured on national news outlets.

The common theme from all of the stories above is perseverance.  Each athlete above had their own personal struggles which led them on a journey of strength.  If you are thinking about returning to college yet feel overwhelmed, draw strength from knowing you are not alone.  Believe in yourself and in God’s plan for you. Believe that YOU have what it takes to emerge with your degree. For more information on how Geneva College can help you pursue your academic and career goals, contact us at 855-979-5563 or

Sources: - CNN – WTAE-TV Pittsburgh