Finding the right track

Abby Kohut-Jackson has built a life around finding the right cadence, from balancing athletics and academics to figuring out her best race pace.
May 27, 2022

Abby Kohut-Jackson’s schedule at the University of Minnesota has been packed. From earning two degrees to conducting research, volunteering, studying abroad in Spain, and competing as an athlete, she’s had to learn about finding the right balance. 

“It has been a little bit of trial and error figuring out how to balance it all, but it feels good knowing I’m not dedicating all my energy towards any one area and instead am prioritizing a well-rounded college experience,” she says.

Valuing the importance of a well-rounded experience, she met with her advisors early on to start preparing for professional school and realized just how oblivious she was to the resources and application processes. It was there that she connected the dots that it takes more than just good grades. She did a summer study abroad program in Spain and volunteered weekly in a few different one-on-one health care capacities. Knowing what to expect helped her seek out additional involvement opportunities beyond her studies in neuroscience and Spanish.

In addition to her other extracurricular activities, Kohut-Jackson ran cross country and track at the University of Minnesota. Competing as a college athlete helped her find ways to add structure to her day and become more efficient with her spare time. She further grew as a leader by serving as a team captain for the past three years–mentoring younger athletes, supporting the team, and planning logistics. 

“Being on the cross country and track teams has been one of the most formative experiences I have had at the U. Competing at this level has pushed me to get the absolute most out of my abilities both for myself and for the team, and all of the ups and downs along the way have taught me so many lessons,” she says.

Kohut-Jackson also took advantage of an additional year of eligibility due to COVID-19 and pursued a master’s of biological sciences while continuing on the track and field and cross country teams. As she wraps up her time at the U, she has her eyes on starting medical school at St. Louis University this fall and is looking for ways to keep running a part of her routine. She hopes to volunteer with the Casa de Salud clinic in St. Louis which would open opportunities to work closely with Spanish-speaking populations. 

“I have been so glad to pursue a variety of experiences to supplement my learning. I fully encourage students to seek out other majors and experiences that are not necessarily connected to a chosen career path. Taking a more comprehensive approach to be more well-rounded as a student, athlete, volunteer, and Spanish-speaker has been invaluable,” she says.

–Christine Hazuka