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Emily Anderson’s political science mentor describes her as “amazing,” while her track coach calls her an exceptional distance runner and leader.

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Her political science mentor describes her as “amazing.” Her track coach calls her an exceptional distance runner and leader. To hear them and others speak about URI senior Emily Anderson, you’d think she’s too good to be true: the epitome of the model student athlete achieving on the field and in the classroom.

But she isn’t too good to be true. A double major in political science and economics, Anderson has received the Nancy McKinstry Scholarship in Economics for two years in a row. In addition, this year she won the Duffy Family Endowed Scholarship, and last year she also received the Mark and Donna Ross Endowed Scholarship in the Arts and Sciences and the David Warren Scholarship.

After graduation, Anderson plans to earn a master’s and a doctoral degree in political science and to teach and perhaps go into college administration.

A women’s track team co-captain who also runs cross country, this Virginia native transplanted to Westerly, R.I., as an eighth grader originally focused on competitive swimming but also joined her middle school’s cross country team. By the time she finished high school she was one of Rhode Island’s most decorated distance runners, earning All State honors in cross country and track and being named the state’s top distance runner She set state records in the outdoor mile, the indoor 1,500 meters, and the outdoor 4x400 relay and was state champion in five events. She was also state winner of the Wendy’s Heisman Scholarship, Athletic, and Citizenship Award.

“Emily is one of the best middle distance runners in the history of the URI Track and Field Program,” her coach, Laurie Feit-Melnick, said. To prove her point, Feit-Melnick related Anderson’s contribution at last year’s Atlantic 10 Indoor Championships where she finished second in the mile and won the 1,000 meters. The coach asked her late in the meet to anchor the distance medley relay, and she responded by running the anchor leg mile, which made the difference as URI won the A10 Championship.

While Anderson has known mostly success at URI, she has had to overcome adversity. She lost her sophomore indoor and outdoor track seasons because of shin stress fractures, but showed her grit and resilience by returning better than ever as a junior. She has two years of track eligibility and hopes to enroll in the political science graduate program next year so she can continue running for URI.

While track honors, such as being chosen URI’s outstanding freshman athlete in 2002-03, have pleased her, she’s just as satisfied with her academic performance. “Emily wrote fascinating papers in my Political Theory class and made important contributions to class discussions,” Professor Alfred Killilea said. “It always amazed me how someone who had the extensive commitments and impossible schedule she had could always be thoroughly prepared for class.”

Her academic and running schedules alone would present a challenge to anyone, Killilea noted, but Anderson also served in his Mentor/Tutor Internship, tutoring local children who were falling behind in school. “This semester she will be a leader in MTI in charge of classes where younger URI students talk about their experience as volunteers in schools,” Killilea explained.

“When I was applying to colleges, people discouraged me from going to the state school,” Anderson recalled. “But I’ve had a great experience at URI.”

By John Pantalone ’71space picturePhoto by Nora Lewis

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