• Route: Rockies
  • Ride Year: 2024
  • Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee

About: If I could describe myself in one word, I would say that I am lucky. While I do work extremely hard, I feel that luck is the reason I am here in Austin, Texas. Back in Nashville, I attended Harpeth Hall, an all girls school. While I attended a prestigious school, school was not my top priority. My sophomore year, I realized the importance of life outside of school. I lived by the saying “do what you love, love what you do”. I exemplified this mantra by finishing my homework at school, so after school, I could volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank, attend concerts, and spend time at Percy Warner Park.

I did not expect to get into UT Austin, but here I am. When I walk around campus, I often think of how lucky I am to be here, where I have the privilege of studying Sustainability Studies and Economics with a minor in Business Spanish. If you could not tell, I love UT and my studies. Outside of classes, I work at the Outdoor Center, where I rent out gear and lead adventure trips. I have the best job ever. The adventure trips offer an escape from reality while fostering a community between strangers. It is the place on campus where I feel my greatest sense of belonging.

In my free time, I am typically doing one of my three favorite things:
1. Hanging out outside, preferably at Mayfield Park or Barton Springs.
2. Jamming out at a concert.
3. Two-stepping at Mavericks Dance Hall.

It seems only right to close my About Me by mentioning again how lucky I feel. I feel so lucky to be at UT Austin and in Texas 4000, where I get to embody its mission of spreading hope, knowledge and charity in the fight against cancer. I feel lucky to have you as a member of my audience, and I am grateful that you took the time to check out my page. If you would like to reach out to me about anything, feel free to contact me at . I would love to hear from you.

Why I Ride

About four years ago, I met the Sittmanns, four strangers who agreed to host me as their exchange student for five weeks. My first impression of the family left me overwhelmed. The Sittmanns greeted me with hugs and kindness; I was shocked by how welcoming they could be of a complete stranger into their home.

The first week I spent with Gisela, my exchange student, and her family, I was extremely uneasy. South African accents are beautiful, but initially, I really struggled understanding Gisela’s parents because their Afrikaans accents were so strong. Therefore, communicating with them left me stressed.

Throughout the five weeks I spent with the family, there were several things I could count on in the Sittmann household:
1. Family dinner together every night.
2. Afrikaans being spoken at the table when they forgot I did not speak the language.
3. Gisela’s father, Michael, asking me questions to which I did not know the answer.

Prior to Michael asking me questions to which I did not know the answer, I was intimidated by him. He was extremely tall, extremely smart, and had an extremely strong Afrikaans accent like I mentioned. But the more time I spent with him and his family, the more comfortable I became with them. I had grown accustomed to their accents and loving care. I began to love what had previously overwhelmed me, and I began to dread leaving the Sittmanns.

I ended up loving the Sittmanns and the life I had with them. I loved family dinners. I loved sitting in their living room watching the Big Bang Theory. And I loved sitting on the kitchen floor being serenaded by Gisela and her twin brother, Alex.

The Sittmanns did not know me or what I was going through at that time in my life, but the kindness and love they showed a stranger impacted me more than they were aware. I cried hysterically when I had to leave the people who had terrified me five weeks earlier.

About half a year after I had returned to Nashville, Gisela informed me that Michael, my exchange father, had been diagnosed with stage four liver cancer. He had been given two years to live max. I hurt for my second family, and I constantly thought of them and their impact on my life. I felt useless and confused as to how I could help. What can someone a continent away even do?

Michael passed away December of 2021, about 2 years after his diagnosis. I ride because of a man who I lived with for just a month. I ride because he and his family welcomed a stranger into their home. I ride because he and his family showed a stranger love. I ride for the Sittmanns.

So, I ride for strangers. I ride for friends. I ride for the opportunity for strangers to become friends. I ride for anyone and everyone out there that is experiencing cancer, has a loved one who is experiencing cancer, or has lost a loved one to cancer.

To Alaska and Back,