Most students know that college is the time to experience new things and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves, but few students actually follow that advice. Hannah Groom of Overland Park, Kan., however, took that advice and ran with it, literally.
Hannah began college at Northwest Missouri State University, playing soccer with goals of one day coaching the sport and teaching mathematics. After a year, she decided she wanted to go to school a little further away from home, so she Googled schools located on the opposite side of the state and came up with Southeast Missouri State University. After doing brief research on the University, making sure Southeast offered a mathematics major and speaking with the University’s soccer coach, Hannah decided Southeast seemed like a good fit for her at the time. Without even visiting the University, Hannah enrolled at Southeast and arrived on campus early in August 2008 on the first day of soccer practice.
After completing a season with the Redhawks, Hannah decided she wanted to give track and field a try. In her youth, Hannah had been nationally ranked in javelin, shot put and discus but quit track and field her freshman year of high school to concentrate on her soccer career. Hannah said the opportunity to join the track team midway through her first year at Southeast was something she couldn’t pass up.
“I really do believe that when one door closes, another opens,” Hannah said. “Coach Eric Crumpecker allowed me to join the team, so I did.”
Hannah threw the javelin for the Redhawks for three years and said she enjoyed every minute of it. Her greatest track and field success was earning All-Conference in the 2011 season.
Her track eligibility expired in spring 2011, but Hannah wasn’t ready to take the bench. After some persuasion, Hannah earned a spot on the cross country team at Southeast for the fall 2012 season despite having never run competitively.
“College wouldn’t have been as fun for me if it weren’t for the opportunities I was able to take advantage of. I met some of my best friends through track and cross country. Before I entered college, I had no plans to compete in anything other than soccer, but I couldn’t have taken any better path in the end,” Hannah said.
Academically, Hannah didn’t follow a traditional path either. After arriving at Southeast, Hannah decided to earn a mathematics degree rather than go into education. Her junior year, however, she realized she didn’t know what she wanted to do with a math degree, so she pursued a physics degree as well. As if that wasn’t enough, Hannah will graduate in May 2012 with minors in recreation and engineering physics to complement the two majors. She will be attending the University of Missouri next fall to pursue a doctoral degree in astrophysics with aspirations of becoming an astronaut.
Hannah admits her academic career has not been a smooth one, but her persistence and drive brought her to the success she has experienced today.
“At one point, I was failing my thermodynamics class, but I studied hours and hours for the final determined to improve my grade. When I got my grades back after the semester, I had gotten a 98 on the final exam and a ‘B’ in the course. That may be my proudest moment in college,” Hannah said.
Any student-athlete understands the hard work it takes to put into one sport while balancing academics. Hannah gave that dedication and time to three sports at the NCAA Division I level while pursuing two majors and two minors and participating in the math and science clubs. Those who know Hannah, and most people on campus do because of her widespread involvement at Southeast, will tell you that if anyone will follow his or her dreams, it’s Hannah. She will set her mind to something and make it happen regardless of the tough work along the way.
When asked if her random decision to attend Southeast was worth it in the end, Hannah gives an encouraging answer.
“I wouldn’t change any experience I’ve had, good or bad, for anything. It’s been the best time of my life. College in general is the best time of your life, and Southeast was perfect for me because of the people I’ve met. You can walk anywhere on campus and see a few faces you know, but you’re also surrounded by people you haven’t had the chance to meet… yet,” Hannah said.