Grace Shadid: Pole Vaulting Her Way to the Top

Major: Economics/Pre-med

Year: Senior

Hometown: Peoria, IL 

What are you involved with on campus? 

I am a pole-vaulter on the Track and Field team, I work at Dodge, and I am the recruitment director for a club called Up 'till Dawn, which raises money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. St. Jude is in Memphis, Tennessee and is a treatment and research hospital for children with cancer and other deadly diseases. What makes St. Jude so special is that families don’t have to pay to receive treatment at St. Jude. This is including travel costs, food, housing, treatment, and medication. 

How did you get involved with St. Jude? 

Ever since I was young, I've wanted to become a pediatric oncologist. After I declared my economics major, I wanted to find a way to explore the economic/financial side of a hospital. I found an internship at St. Jude in their fundraising department and absolutely loved it. 

How long have you been pole vaulting? What's the experience of pole-vaulting like? Can you describe the experience? 

I've been pole-vaulting since I was in 6th grade. I grew up with 3 brothers, so I always had a very competitive personality. I wanted to play football to show that I was faster and stronger than the boys in my grade, but my dad didn't like that. Instead, when my oldest brother started pole vaulting, I tried it and fell in love with the sport. 

It's hard to explain how it feels to pole vault. It's an experience that tests you mentally, physically, and emotionally. It's sort of like when your a kid on the high dive, and you know that once you jump off, it's going to be awesome, but you have to run really fast and decide to jump first. 

There's a moment on the runway when you get to full speed and you have a fraction of a second to decide that you're going to jump off the ground. I love this moment because even though everything is happening so fast, you still have control over what you do. It's a really liberating experience, and super fun too!  Here's a video of Allison Stokke pole vaulting with a GoPro.

What is your favorite part of being on a team? 

I've always had a motherly instinct, so I love having a team full of people to look after. There are so many people on the team, and I love getting to know everyone and trying to be a source of support. It's amazing to see everyone come together at big track meet or cross country races and do their part with the same goal in mind: an Ivy Championship. 

How do you balance your sport, school work, and extracurricular activities? 

I write every single thing down. I even write my classes down in my planner, because otherwise I'll probably forget. I also use my downtime to be productive in some way or another. There aren't many times when I'm actually doing nothing-I get too nervous. 

Do you have a favorite Columbia sport to watch?

That's really hard. Obviously I love watching my teammates compete, but I come from a football family, so I love watching football games. But the women's volleyball team is a blast to watch too! I also love watching the men's basketball and baseball teams. Both those teams have such great chemistry and they have so much love for the game. It's fun to watch teams like that. Everyone should definitely head up to Baker and Levien this year and check out some games! Our teams have had success this year so far, and that is much more enjoyable with a full stand of fans! 

Are you excited for homecoming this week? Anything you are looking forward to? 

YES! Homecoming is one of my favorite weekends. I'm pretty sappy, but I just love seeing the Columbia and Barnard communities come together: students, alums, etc. I just think it's amazing to see how many people come back. We all spend 4 years here, we are tested, we grow and change, and all those experiences occur because we are here at Columbia University. I love to see where the Columbia experience has taken everybody. 

After winning against Wagner, I think the stadium is going to be packed with supportive fans! I am excited to see how the football team uses that momentum against Penn. 

At homecoming where can we find you? Tailgating? In the stands? 

You will absolutely find me at the game! I will be wearing my blue, and definitely will have a C or a paw print on my face.