Three Olympic medalists spoke on campus yesterday to inspire not only aspiring athletes but also students looking for career advice.
Eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno and four-time Paralympic medalist Alana Nichols were among the three athletes who gave speeches in the Michigan Union Ballroom last night at an event titled “It’s Your Race, Take the Lead.” The event was part of a multi-campus tour started two years ago by Deloitte, a financial advising company and sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
In her presentation, Nichols explained how her aspiration to participate in the Olympics did not subside after she was paralyzed in 2000 when she broke her back in a snowboarding accident.
“You must believe you have done everything you can in order to be at your best,” she said.
Ohno, a short track speed skater, emphasized the importance of dedication, a positive mindset and preparation in his speech.
“Four years of your life is dedicated to 40 seconds in short track,” Ohno said, pointing out that such a long training period keeps him in shape to skate at his best.
In response to an audience member’s question about switching careers, Ohno said a high-performance mindset can be applied in any job. He said the reason he visits campuses is to help “motivate younger generations to work at their best ability.”
“Mindset is applicable to anything you choose,” Ohno said.
Deloitte Managing Director Robert Coury, a graduate of the Ross School of Business, said the University of Michigan was an important stop on the tour. In addition to listening to the athletes, attendees met with Deloitte recruiters to discuss career aspirations and potential job opportunities.
Business graduate student Julie Chen, who attended a similar event hosted by Deloitte last year, praised its unique format. She said Nichols’ story resonated with her.
“This is my favorite recruiting event because it’s less about selling the company and more about the athletes (sharing) with you their strategies and how to apply them to your own life,” Chen said.
Business graduate student Dorothy Greg said she attended because she wanted to hear from some of the most inspiring athletes of the day.
“I came to the event because I was a track athlete in college, so for me it was a great way to revisit that mindset in a different page of my life,” Greg said.
Business graduate student Patrick Lord said the talk made him consider the importance of setting small goals every day.
“Sometimes we set very high goals for ourselves, … (but) it’s actually remembering the mechanics and making sure that we do the preparation,” Lord said.