Freeman twins take track and field, cross-country by storm
Being an athlete in school can be a tough
endeavor, especially when you’re in the process of adjusting to college
life. But for the Freeman twins, Kayla
and Shayla, the goal from day one has involved giving back to their family, and
eventually, the community as a whole.
Kayla, a freshman secondary education major with
an emphasis in mathematics, and Shayla, a freshman secondary education major
with an emphasis in chemistry, both want to be high school teachers in their
respective areas of study.
The first-generation college students hope to
give back not only to their siblings (they are two of nine), but to future
students. Shayla says having an effect
on someone in the teenage stage of their life is impactful, and that without a
support system, it’s sometimes hard for students to cope with stress.
“I want to be the person that students can come
and talk to when they need guidance,” Shayla says. “High school was hard, but I had people who
helped me, people I could always talk to.
That’s why I went into education as my major. I’m a people person.”
The Freemans hail from Phoenix, Arizona and chose
NAU because of the university’s prestigious secondary education program. After showing some initial interest in the
program, the twins were offered a spot on NAU’s track and field and cross country
When at Greenway High School, the sisters quickly
became two of the top runners. Shayla,
who didn’t want to attend practice alone, invited Kayla, who originally had no
interest in running, to join her on the track team. After a few practice sessions, Kayla was
actively engaging herself in running, and now holds some of the top track
records at the high school.
Now that they’re in Flagstaff, Kayla says balancing
time between school and sports is proving the biggest challenge aside from
running at 7,000 feet elevation.
Both girls had to learn how to arrange a weekly
schedule that allowed time for classes, practice sessions, and sleep, but they
each said the positives outweigh the negatives.
Kayla says team travel has been hectic but fun, and that if it wasn’t
for college sports, she wouldn’t be traveling at all. Shayla says the experience has taught her to
manage responsibility and learn the importance of time management.
The twins cite Pam Lowie, the Assistant
Athletics Director for Academics, as their favorite adviser at the university. Though they each struggled as first-generation
students, Kayla says Lowie has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help them
with any challenges.
“Pam helped us to adjust; she’s our magic
solution,” Kayla says.
Since their arrival, both Freeman sisters have enjoyed
their time at NAU, citing the weather and the sense of community as positive
factors in their experience.
Shayla says each and every experience is one
that can be used to help her younger siblings.
“They don’t necessarily want to go to college
because they want to follow our older siblings, but Kayla and I are trying to
show them that college is fun,” Shayla says.
“That’s what being a first generation student means to me. We can help them. It was so hard getting to college, and now,
we can be that positive example for them.”