Posted Suzanna McCloskey on 3/20/2015 |Featured Columns & Series
This year, Girls on the Run will serve its one-millionth girl! We’re honoring this milestone by celebrating what makes each of us one in a million and by showcasing some one-in-a-million women who have made exceptional contributions to empowering girls and women.
Andréa Williams, a nurse from Annapolis, Maryland, is one of the eight women on the Bike Like a Girl team, which will participate in the Race Across America transcontinental bicycle race in June. As the second 8-woman team in Race Across America history, Bike Like a Girl is racing with the goal of raising money and awareness in support of empowering girls and women through cycling. Biking has empowered Andréa since she was a child, and she says being on her bike lets her experience life on a different level than she experiences anywhere else. For that reason, she’s excited to learn new things and challenge herself as she races across America with her Bike Like a Girl teammates.
Here’s what Andréa has to share about being one in a million.
Q: Girls on the Run envisions a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams! How did you start to realize your own limitless potential and pursue the path to where you are today?
Andréa: I started realizing my limitless potential by choosing a goal and going after it. I soon realized that this was a fun game. Some goals have been short term, and others have taken years, but with determination I have been able to achieve my goals by chipping away at them one step at a time.
Q: Of the traits and achievements that help make you one-in-a-million, what stands out most to you?
Andréa: Determination. To me that means never giving up. Being determined is a trait that has helped me achieve some of my dreams and learn valuable life lessons along the way. Being determined doesn’t always mean you might be successful or reach your goal in the way you planned. It means giving it your all and maybe sometimes even trying again when things don’t go how you think they will. It’s about keeping your eye on whatever your goal is, sometimes getting back up if we get knocked down and at times finding another way to reach that goal. That’s the fun part about life—it keeps us on our toes and constantly teaches us to adapt when we need to do so!
Q: Girls on the Run believes that big things are possible when you keep moving forward. One of the ways our girls experience that is when they cross the finish line at the 5k that celebrates their completion of the program. Can you share an example from your own life?
Andréa: I experienced this when I decided to go to nursing school when I was 40 years old. It had been a lifelong dream of mine, but I had three children, and at times it seemed impossible. I began taking the prerequisites at the community college one at a time over three years, and then I was ready to apply to nursing schools. After 21 intense months I graduated with a Masters of Science from the University of Maryland and began my career as a nurse.
Q: Which one of the core values of Girls on the Run resonates most with you and why?
Andréa: "Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions," is the value that stands out to me the most. I think that all too often we focus too much on ourselves and not on building others up. The greatest people in my life have been those that have the ability to always make others feel special. All too often, somebody makes us feel good or does something exceptional, and we don't share it with them. I believe it is important not to miss these opportunities.
Q: One of the many things our curriculum teaches girls is how to recognize and work through challenges in productive ways. What is a challenge you have faced (or still face)? How did/do you respond, and what have you learned from it?
Andréa: One challenge I have is accepting my limitations. I realize that I can't be everything to everyone. I have had to learn to prioritize and accept the choices I have made by knowing that I can only do my best.
Q: What insight or advice would you offer a young girl today? What would you say now to your 8-year-old self?
Andréa: Be yourself and follow your dreams. We are all made in a unique way. Work to have different experiences so that you can learn who you are, and then be the best "you" that you can be.
This spring, Girls on the Run will serve our 1 millionth girl! To celebrate, we're sharing the stories of girls, volunteers and supporters who have been inspired to be joyful, healthy and confident. Join our virtual celebration today and learn other ways to get involved at girlsontherun.org.