Susie Valeri, hopeful future track star and early childhood educator, is in her last semester at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC). Already a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the International Honor Society for Community Colleges, Valeri is the recipient of a $1,000 Brendlinger Family Scholarship for Education majors with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Although her time at MCCC is nearly complete, Valeri is fully prepared for her next steps.
Like some other high school students considering their college options, Valeri admits, “At first, the thought of attending a community college was not my favorite idea. But it was the smartest decision, financially. After attending the college, I grew to be very fond of it. It has taught me a lot and I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend this school.”
Valeri currently lives in Wayne with her parents and five siblings (four sisters and a brother), but big changes are coming with her transfer this fall to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The decision to continue her education in Hawaii was based on a variety of factors. An older sister will be moving to Hawaii this summer with her fiancée who is in the United States Navy, thus ensuring that family will still be close even in distant Hawaii.
“I have always wanted to study abroad, or travel somewhere [to] see how education systems are different in different places. The University of Hawaii seemed like a great place to broaden my horizons,” she said.
A third factor in her decision to attend the university was its Division 1 athletic program, offering her the opportunity to pursue her passion for running. “I’ve spoken with the coach about running for them. Depending on the times I receive in meets this spring and summer, I may be able to run for them,” Susie said.
Becoming a professional track athlete is one of Valeri’s dreams for the future. She began running in eighth grade because “the majority of my friends were boys and [running] was one of the few co-ed sports.”
Her inspiration to run came from a variety of sources. “I was so inspired by the high school team that I decided to continue [running] in high school, making it my main sports focus,” she said.
Valeri also enjoyed watching her role model, United States Olympian LoLo Jones. “After her big fall in the Beijing Olympics, and being able to come back from that I knew she had so much strength and determination inside of her,” she said. “I definitely thrived off her enthusiasm.”
Susie currently competes in open meets, recently finishing sixth in the 55 Meter Hurdles final in the Colgate Women’s Games at the historic Armory Track in New York City.
“It was a great way to get my legs moving again and used to the racing life, and I plan to do even better this spring,” she said.
To achieve her goal of running professionally, Valeri must compete against and beat known athletes. “When a ‘no name’ athlete wins a race, they begin to get noticed by different agents and companies,” she said. “Once you’re able to compete in big national meets against professional women, you have the potential to get signed to run by a sponsor company.”
Valeri’s enthusiasm for running is matched by her passion for early childhood education. “I absolutely love the idea of spending my life being an early childhood educator,” she said. “Children are so much more intelligent than people give them credit for. I learn something new just about every day from the children I’m around and I cannot tell you how happy that makes me.”
Valeri currently works part time as a member of the CARES (Children Are Receiving Extended Services) program at Mother Teresa Catholic Regional School in King of Prussia, where she has also had an opportunity to substitute in the classrooms when needed.
“I hope to be a positive influence on every student that comes my way.”
Valeri believes that her ambitions for a professional track career, and the associated preparations required, help push her towards excellence every day. Whether on the track or in the classroom, it is evident that this drive will help her meet her goals.
~ by Tamara A. Measler