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Q&A: Central grad up for NCAA Woman of the Year

Central York grad Abbey Miklitsch has been busy since leaving York. The former Central York track star and recent Rhode Island University graduate has rowed four years for the Rams’ Division I rowing team, graduated with a double major and two minors, made Dean’s List all four years, was inducted to two international honor societies and was the president for Rhode Island’s Student’ Athlete Advisory Council. Oh, and she got to visit the White House.

Got all that? Good, because she’s not done yet. Miklitsch was recently nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award, which honors graduating female college athletes who distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service and leadership.

Between her busy, successful schedule, Miklitsch managed to take a few minutes to speak with on a range of topics including meeting Joe Biden and how she ended up in Wisconsin.

First, how did you go from being a track star at Central to a rower at Rhode Island?

I didn't have any intentions of rowing when I decided to go to Rhode Island, I honestly didn't even know what it was. I was toying with the idea of running distance on the track team. I had the potential to train with the team at that level, although I never would've been an all-star. I was approached by the rowing coaches before I had made my mind up either way about track and they offered me a chance to try out for their team and walk on.

I figured it was college and you're supposed to try new things. I loved water and boats originally and it sounded more fun than running. ... so I gave it a go.

You had a double major and two minors, were on multiple committees and still made Dean’s List every semester. That’s pretty impressive. You were able to experience a lot, so what's next?

Yes double majors in psychology and criminology, and minors in underwater archaeology and philosophy. Lots of involvement.

As of now I'm relocated in Madison, Wisc. This was a tough decision to come to because I was offered a Fulbright Scholarship to spend a year in Malaysia this past spring. I struggled coming to a decision and ultimately chose sticking with furthering my education after many sleepless nights and tons of debate. It was an extremely challenging lesson to learn: that you don't take everything that's offered to you in life. So, I'm enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Rehabilitation Psychology graduate program, where I hope to specialize in research regarding the neurology of stroke survivors and those that have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

You got to visit the White House? How cool was that?

I did get to go to the White House! That was phenomenal. I held one of the 17 seats on the national "It's On Us" Student Advisory Committee last year. ... I was invited to intend the Champions of Change Ceremony there this past spring hosted by Vice President Joe Biden. It was a really outstanding time.

What was your first reaction when you heard you were nominated for Woman of the Year?

I was shocked. My faculty at Rhode Island who nominated me are the most inspiring individuals you could hope to meet in your life. Without ever originally having the plans to become a Division I athlete to where I've ended up only exemplifies how chaseable your dreams really are. I feel so blessed to have been afforded the chance to immerse myself in such a demanding, humbling and rewarding experience these last four years. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

How did your family react?

Oh my family was thrilled! I have a younger brother who's even more impressive as an individual. I'm doing my best to keep up with him.

It sounds cliche, but what does being nominated mean to you?

I invest my time and my energies where my passions are. I studied and obtained the degrees I did because I love to learn. I rowed for four years because I loved the challenge, my teammates and my school. I served and advocated for the groups and causes that I did because I whole-heartedly believe in the organizations that I devote my time to. I do the things I do because to me, they're worth it. To have my passions amount to something that is nominated at such a prestigious level is thrilling. It means that someone else out there thought my time spent was worthwhile too.