Thank You, Vanderbilt

by Harrison Thomas

SAAC President, four-time men's cross country letterwinner and Class of 2020 graduate Harrison Thomas pens a letter to his recent alma mater and future medical school.

Thank you, Vanderbilt, for allowing me to pursue my dreams.

Five years ago, when I was an 11th grader beginning to pick out the colleges I would apply to, the prospect of continuing my running career collegiately was not at the forefront of my priorities.

Coming from a small high school in rural southern Illinois, it was not typical for many athletes to go on to compete at the NCAA Division I level. At the time, my school had only produced about a dozen DI athletes in its history.

However, my love for running continued to grow, and after the end of my high school senior cross country season I could not imagine the prospect of my competitive running career ending so soon. As a result, I began seeking out a college where I could combine my love for running with my academic goals.

I wanted to find a top biomedical engineering program at a research-driven institution that also offered high-caliber athletics. My search didn’t take long because Vanderbilt immediately checked all the boxes on my list.

Now that my four years of athletics and undergraduate studies have come to an end, I am so grateful to Vandy for allowing me to have the best of both worlds. I got to compete with some of the best athletes on the cross country course and collaborate with some of the best minds in the classroom. I will treasure these experiences forever.

Vanderbilt University Athletics - Official Athletics Website

Thank you, Vanderbilt, for constantly challenging me.

My time spent at Vandy has been filled with many highs and lows.

There were times when I felt completely overwhelmed by the demands of my coursework and my training. I had to grapple with frequent running injuries that sidelined me for numerous weeks. I struggled to find the right balance of all my academic, athletic and social commitments.

However, Vanderbilt has taught me how to improve and grow from these moments of difficulty. Over the past few years I’ve constantly worked to improve my time management skills and efforts to study more efficiently. Each injury that has forced me to take time away from running has helped remind me of why I love running, providing greater fuel for each eventual comeback.

Most importantly, I’m grateful that Vandy has shown me I never have to face these challenges alone.

Vanderbilt University Athletics - Official Athletics Website

Thank you, Vanderbilt, for giving me life-long friends.

The members of the Vanderbilt men’s and women’s cross country teams, over the past four years, have become some of my best friends. My teammates are truly my second family. They are some of the most kind, caring and hard-working people I have ever met.

In my final semester of undergrad, people started asking me what I was going to miss most about Vanderbilt. Without any hesitation, my immediate response was always my teammates.

But even beyond my teammates, I am so grateful for the many other incredible friendships I’ve formed thanks to my time at Vanderbilt. From the amazing student-athletes to the incredible individuals I’ve met from my other campus involvement, it’s the people at Vandy that have made my experience so special.

Vanderbilt University Athletics - Official Athletics Website

Thank you, Vanderbilt, for letting me stick around for four more years.

After many, many months of work to solidify my post-graduation plans, I am so excited to share that I will be staying in Nashville to pursue an MD at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine. It has been a very long road to reach this decision including the rigors of the pre-med curriculum combined with biomedical engineering, prepping for the MCAT and an extensive medical school application process.

After applying to 15 schools, traveling to eleven different interviews and receiving offers from many amazing institutions, I am so happy to be continuing my education at Vanderbilt. The Vanderbilt School of Medicine has all the aspects of a school I set out looking for including an innovative curriculum, small class size, top-notch hospital facilities and really awesome current students among many other things.

I am so thankful for my time as a Vanderbilt student-athlete because it has prepared me so well to begin this next phase of my life of becoming a physician.

Thank you, Vanderbilt, for everything.

Sincerely a soon-to-be Double Dore, Harrison Thomas '20

Vanderbilt University Athletics - Official Athletics Website


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