By Amelia Kibbe
March 17, 2016
After a few semesters of competing on the Division I women’s cross country team, 2016 childhood studies senior Kerry Caher realized it was her experiences as a student-athlete that would play the biggest role in planning her future.
“I took some time to try and find my path, and after considering many options, I took a step back and reviewed what I’ve been in my time at college aside from an education major,” Caher, now a senior, explained. “I realized that I’ve been an athlete who had to learn the hard way that being dedicated to your sport also means being dedicated to your health.”
And it was her personal struggles that inspired her to want to help athletes who, like her, battled eating disorders.
“I’ve learned a lot about nutrition through personal experiences, have worked closely with nutritionists and yearn to learn more,” Caher, a native of Clifton Park, N.Y., said.
She attributes this new sense of awareness to the friends and caring community she found at St. Bonaventure, beginning day one with her running teammates.
“I was so glad to be a part of a team,” Caher said. “Right off the bat I had a group of friends (many of whom were older) who all helped me find my way.”
Caher, who ranks as the top female runner in school history for her distinctions as a multiple-time conference athlete of the week and first-team all-conference honors, said while balancing intense athletics and academics occasionally seemed daunting, she always had someone there to help.
“The times that I felt like I had too much on my plate were few and far between,” she said. “I was busy, but always having something to do helped to keep me organized and on top of my work. I was able to do what I love, take as many credit hours as I needed [or] wanted, and had an extra support group in my teammates, coaches, and other staff.”
As an experienced member of the team, she had the opportunity to provide the same support to the younger Bonnies as one of the team’s captains her senior year.
Head cross country coach Robert MacFarlane said the most impressive thing about Caher is her work ethic, not her successes.
“While many coaches admire the runner with natural talent, I have the utmost respect for Kerry on her work ethic, dedication to training and all the little details to be successful,” he said. “That is where the runners with the desire and dedication—and the willingness to be patient—are going to be the ones who eventually succeed.”
Caher said it’s the Bonnies she still connects with every single day who have given her a sense of direction.
“I look back and see how fortunate I’ve been to have had so many people guide me along the way,” she said. “I think what makes St. Bonaventure such a special school is the way that professors, students, coaches and really just the whole community are all rooting for your success and will go out of their way to help you.”
But it’s not just the current Bonaventure community Caher has to thank. As a recipient of both academic and athletic scholarships, Caher said she is grateful for the alumni who donate to the university and provide better opportunities for graduates like her.
“Without [scholarships], I wouldn’t have been able to spend my college years in a place best suited for me,” she said. “I could not imagine being anywhere else…I have formed connections here that will remain forever and have received an education that I know could not be found anywhere else.”
This year, Caher will enter a dietetics program, which will involve two more years of schooling, a year-long internship and passing the Registered Dietitian (RD) exam, allowing her to help athletes treat and prevent eating disorders.
“It will be a few more years of intense coursework, but if I am able to prevent the demon that took over me for so long from gaining control of others, it will all be worth it,” she said. “Bona’s has prepared me for what is to come in all ways imaginable. St. Bonaventure turned me into both the athlete and student I never knew I could be.”
View the Atlantic 10 Conference #FeatureFriday video featuring Kerry.
Amelia Kibbe, a Harrison Valley, Pennsylvania, native, is a junior journalism and mass communication and English double major at St. Bonaventure.
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