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Nia Akins, Brooks Beast and University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing Grad

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“I definitely felt very different from everyone else and that’s definitely, to be honest, a huge reason why I don’t really like cross country as much as track. I do feel like there are less people I can relate to or I can even talk to some people about some things I’m experiencing or feeling. I know when I was being recruited at Penn, there was a specific middle distance group that was a mix between 400-800-milers. Those people didn’t necessarily run cross country. I was excited about coming into a group like that. When the coaches changed a bit, now I was a distance runner. I was running cross country and I was the only individual of color. I think that was a very different experience. To anyone who is listening, who is one of very few or maybe the only person of color on their team, you’re supposed to be in that space. Just being in that space is doing a lot for not only you but the Black community at large. You’re immersing people in your experiences and perspectives, even if you’re not saying that much or anything about being Black. It’s felt by everybody. Your presence is definitely felt and you’re making an impact by doing that.

I’ve had some really great people in my circle outside of just my immediate training group that did a good job of telling me, “You’re supposed to be here. You can do well here.” I think that helped me have that degree of success that I had in cross country and prepared me well for track.”

nia akins more than running with dana giordano podcast

Nia Akins joins Dana Giordano just days after signing a professional contract to run for the Brooks Beasts training group in Seattle, Washington. She just wrapped up an accomplished career at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a two-time NCAA runner-up in the 800 meters and boasts a 2:00.71 indoor personal best in the event. She also graduated with a degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. In this episode, they discuss her decision to turn pro amid a global pandemic, the accomplished final goals wiped away due to COVID-19, balancing her coursework at the No. 1 nursing school in the country, her conversations regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and what her hope is for society and sport moving forward.

In May, she opened up about an incident where a man yelled racial slurs at her while she was working out. She spoke about it on Instagram| She also wrote about it for Runner’s World.

Follow Nia on Instagram.

▶ Follow Dana: Twitter | Instagram

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