As a young girl growing up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Sarah Alexander, ’15, spent every spare moment training to be a competitive figure skater. Even though she didn’t have the right physique—she was tall in a sport that favors being short—she loved to express herself through music and movement.
In fourth grade, Alexander faced a difficult jump she just couldn’t master. “I remember crying in the car on the way to skating lessons, begging my mom to quit. She made a deal with me: if I still wanted to quit once I got that jump, I could. But I couldn’t give up before then.” It took a whole year, but Alexander finally landed the jump—and then continued to figure skate competitively for years.
By the time she came to Chicago Booth in 2013, Alexander was working as an environmental consultant, and kept sports in her life by racing triathlons, grueling multisport races that combine swimming, cycling, and running. The self-belief and resilience she developed as an athlete informed her approach to work and studies. She wanted to share that.
“I always found my athletic experience to be a source of empowerment,” she says, “not only in sports, but also in the classroom, interviews, and beyond. I wanted to find a way to pass that along.”
She discovered that opportunity as a coach in the Chicago chapter of Girls on the Run (GOTR), a national nonprofit that teaches young women empowerment and determination through training them to run a 5K in just a few months. “It was amazing to see how running brought together so many women and girls from across the city. It reinforced how sport can be a uniting force,” she says.