Governor General honours U of T's Alicia Brown
New alumna is track star and dedicated volunteer
When Alicia Brown’s feet touch the track, the world fades away.
“There’s something very liberating about running,” says the recent University of Toronto Mississauga graduate. “When I’m on the track, I shut everything out and exist in the moment. There’s no other way to give it 100 per cent of my being.”
Brown was recently named one of eight academic all-Canadians by Canadian University Sport (CIS). The award celebrates student-athletes who have maintained an average of at least 80 per cent over the academic year while competing for one or more university teams. Brown graduated in June 2013 with an honours BA in communications, culture and information technology.
Brown was in Ottawa on November 12 to attend a commendation for the academic all-Canadians at Rideau Hall, held by Governor General David Johnston.
"It’s an honour to be receiving an award from the Governor General for both academic and athlete merit. I've worked so hard to be a strong student, as well as a strong athlete," says Brown. “I’m very proud to be a Varsity Blue and have grown tremendously from my experiences at U of T, both on and off the track.”
It wasn’t an easy five years. Along with her classes, Brown was an active volunteer, dedicating hours to the Erindale Campus African Student Association, the Ottawa Food Bank, and to coaching and organizing track and field events.
And then there was her training: up to 25 hours a week, including 14 hours just on the track.
The work has paid off, though. In her 2012-13 season, Brown was named the most valuable female performer in track events by Ontario University Athletics (OUA). In OUA and CIS events, she won the 300m as well as the 4x200m and 4x400m relays, helping the 4x200m team to a CIS and Canadian record. U of T recognized her achievements by naming her female athlete of the year.
“Alicia is determined to be the very best she can be,” says Carl Georgevski, head coach for Varsity Blues Track & Field. “She is an outstanding athlete, an excellent student and, most importantly, an exceptional young woman."
Although Brown is running against some of the best in Canada, her main challenger is herself. “Track allows you to be self-competitive and to pit yourself against your own times and your own achievements,” she says.
But it takes more than just physical strength to run 300m in less than 40 seconds. Brown says her biggest gains on the track happened after she made a conscious decision to make changes in her life.
“It’s hard, but I remind myself that positive change and improvement are closely related,” she says. Her key phrase for these moments is: “If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting the results that you have been getting.”
Brown is dedicating this year to training. She hopes to continue representing Canada in track over the next three years while she works towards her long-term goal of making the Canadian Olympic team for 2016.
She’s also looking to complete a master's degree in professional communications. “I’m interested in business marketing as well as public and media relations.”
Currently, she’s training for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in summer 2014 and getting ready for the Pan American Games in Toronto in 2015.
“I hope I will get the opportunity to compete for Canada on national soil,” Brown says. “That would be incredible.”