After a long day of classes and studying, Jenna Shelton ’18, Penn State Behrend’s 2018 Female Scholar Athlete of the Year, would look forward to relaxing—with a grueling run with her track and field teammates.
“I would get to the end of the day and think: Finally, I can go to practice and relax,” Shelton said. “All I have to do is run. I can do that.”
Track is a familiar sport for Shelton, who ran during her high school years and three years at Behrend after transferring from a community college. Though she graduated in May with a degree in Marketing, Shelton has one more year of eligibility and will continue running with the Lions this year as she works on an MBA at Behrend.
Greg Cooper, head coach of track and field and cross country, is happy to have another year with his middle-distance track star.
“Jenna is a persistent and dedicated young woman,” Cooper said. “Setbacks and roadblocks don’t stop her. In racing, in the classroom, and in life, we need people with just that kind of tenacity and grit.”
The Cabot, Pennsylvania, native is a first-generation college graduate driven to achieve. She graduated with a 3.75 cumulative grade point average while racking up significant accomplishments in track and field and cross country.
Yes, Shelton runs cross country, too, but prefers track.
“I’m not a sprinter, but I like running short and fast,” she said. “Middledistance track events are perfect for me because when I have too much time to think about what I’m doing, I start getting into my own head. My mind is sometimes my worst enemy.”
Shelton has been working on pushing past the walls her brain tries to construct when she is running.
“I’ve learned to focus on my breathing,” she said. “I didn’t drop out of any races at the end of the season, which was a big accomplishment for me. I’m learning to deal with it and keep going.”
When she’s not at Behrend, Shelton works part-time at Achille’s Running Shop in Erie. After earning her MBA, she hopes to work at an athletics or nutrition company.
“I’m hoping the MBA program will help pinpoint which direction I really want to go,” she said. Whatever it is, we’re sure that she will overcome any obstacles that stand in her way.