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STUDENT-Athlete of the Week: Zara Lukens

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Each week, we shift the student-athlete emphasis to the left side of the hyphen and I have a conversation with a Trojan scholar athlete.
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Name: Zara Lukens

Sport: Cross Country

Class: Senior

Major: International Relations and Neuroscience (Minor in Spanish)

GPA: 3.95


Jordan Moore (JM):  You're from Portland, Oregon, which has become the cradle of American runners.  Does Nike put something in the water up there?
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Zara Lukens (ZL):
Maybe, but I think it's more about the easy access to really attractive running footwear.  It doesn't get more inspirational than that.  And it probably also has something to do with the weather.  You really need the endorphins when it's overcast nine months of the year.

JM: Speaking of water, you're applying for 4 different post-graduate scholarships to pursue your interests in water policy and management.  At the crux of the matter is a debate between water as a human right or an economic good, which side do you come down on?

ZL:
Definitely the water as a human right side.  I'm still idealistic enough to think that water, the substance most crucial to life, should be accessible to everyone (and I really hope I always will be!).  

JM:
If you get all 4 scholarships (Rhodes, Mitchell, Marshall and Fulbright), which one do you accept or is that a secret?

ZL:
I don't know if it's wise to disclose that information... What if the national committees read USCTrojans.com?? 

JM: Good point.  The Rhodes Scholarship definitely "Likes" us on Facebook. 
Pat Haden is arhodes.jpg Rhodes Scholar.  Has he written you a recommendation?  You should at least find out where the best pubs are.

ZL: Haha!  I did talk to him about it, but not about the pubs.  He offered to read my personal statement, which was really nice of him.

JM:
Three of the scholarships would take you to the UK or Ireland, but the Fulbright would give you an opportunity to do research in Uruguay.  Is that where the minor in Spanish comes in?

ZL: I've always been interested in the Spanish language and Latin American culture.  I've known I want to live in Latin America for a long time, and getting paid to conduct my own research would be amazing.  More broadly, Latin America is the US's often neglected Western hemisphere neighbor, and I'd love to help improve understanding and our diplomatic relations.

JM: With all that knowledge, do you think about all kinds of things while you're running or can you shut it off?

ZL:
I mostly think about running when I'm running, which is one reason I like it so much.  The nerves and adrenaline that come with running overpower anything else I might be stressed out about.

JM:
As an Oregon runner, I assume you are well versed on Steve Prefontaine.  Did you like the Jared Leto or Billy Crudup movie version better?
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ZL:
I must admit I have only seen Without Limits, but I thought Billy Crudup did a pretty mean Pre.

JM: Do you think you'll always be a runner even if you stop competing?

ZL:
Oh totally.  I want to do marathons and half marathons after I graduate.  I think I'll be one of those 90-year-old ladies trying to get an age group record (or maybe just trying to finish).  I don't think I could live without running.

JM:
How has cross country helped you in your life?

ZL:
Cross country has really taught me a lot about perseverance.  School has always come fairly naturally to me, but I'm not nearly as talented on the track.  It takes a lot more guts to stick with something you're not the best at than to keep going when you know you'll be successful.

JM: Do you have any cool running pics that I can add to this post?

ZL: Here's the best one I could find... I don't have too many because I'm usually running so fast it's hard to photograph. :)
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