Finance major and student-athlete fosters both passion for running and academics at WVU

November 31, 2016
WVU College of B&E student Sarabeth Porter

Being a fulltime student as well as a collegiate athlete takes a lot of time management and discipline, and West Virginia University College of Business and Economics senior Rebecca Wendt balances the life of student-athlete with grace and resiliency.

The finance major is a competitor for the WVU Women’s Cross Country Team and the Women’s Track Team, and was recently named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team. To be named to this team, student-athletes must earn a 3.2 GPA or higher and compete in at least 60 percent of the season at a Big 12 level or higher.

“We have a very demanding athletic schedule and a very demanding academic schedule being a finance student, so you really just need to work on time management. You need to be very disciplined, have your schedule down pat. Sometimes that’s really early mornings of training and late nights of studying,” Wendt said. “Academics are very important to me because at the end of the day, I know I can’t run forever. I do need to have a career and an education, and that’s very important to the cross country team as a whole.”

The Ontario native began her athletic career early as a competitive swimmer at the age of eight and, with regular track and field events in elementary school and throughout the years, she flourished becoming more competitive in each sport. To achieve her goals, Wendt joined a club outside of school, which she says boosted her to where she is today.

But it was Women’s Cross Country Coach Sean Cleary that helped her realize her ultimate dreams of competing at a college level and beyond.

“I chose WVU because of Coach Cleary's philosophies, the way he went about recruiting. Since he is Canadian, he understood the way my high school career developed through our track/cross country programs because they are slightly different than those of Americans. The overall recruiting process dealing with a lot of schools was very overwhelming at times but there was always something special about West Virginia University,” she said. “By the time I took my official visit I was close to making my decision, and the minute I stepped onto campus it simply felt right. I loved the campus; West Virginia is gorgeous. And I thought it would be a great change of atmosphere for my university experience.”

Since arriving to Morgantown to begin her college career, the University, the athletic program and B&E have not disappointed. In terms of athletics, Wendt says she has really grown throughout her time here. She says she has experienced highs and lows and accomplished many goals.

“One of the things that I am most proud of and what has made me who I am today is overcoming a lot of injuries and down points in my career. When I first arrived as a freshman, I was in a walking air cast with a broken tibia, so it was extremely difficult to not be able to jump right into training and racing with my teammates,” she said. “However, I truly believe that all of the struggles have made me more appreciative of the spot I am in now, and it makes me that much more excited to look to the future. I have a very small, close support group, and they mean the world to me. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without them.”

As an athlete, Wendt has many career goals, including one day competing on the Canadian Olympic team. But, as she said, she knows she can’t run forever, and that’s why she strives in her academic career as well.

“I really always liked math and business. Originally, I was thinking more the accounting route, but once I kind of got into business-specific courses, I found that I really liked the financial analysis side, so that’s kind of where I decided to take that route and go more of a corporate business evaluation side of it,” she said. “I would like to go on and get a masters in finance, so eventually, kind of move into the corporate world and kind work my way up the ladder that way.”

After graduating in May, B&E will hopefully be lucky enough to see Wendt continue to walk the halls, learn in the classrooms and compete on the track and courses.

“I’d like to get my masters here. I still have another year of eligibility after I graduate from undergrad in the spring. Coach Cleary and I have already discussed that, and as long as everything goes well academically, I’ll maintain my running career here,” Wendt said. “For now, I am looking forward to the track season. We start indoor track in December, but we don’t actually start competing until the second week of January. The indoor season goes from then until the middle of March, and then outdoor season goes until the middle of June. Basically, we’re in season all year, which is why it takes so much discipline, so much time. But I love it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”