Big 12 Campus Correspondent
As a cross country runner for The University of Texas, Anne Jones is thinking about the long run.
She has earned a degree in biology and is now working toward her Doctor of Pharmacy. Jones hopes to help others not only as a pharmacist but also as a member of the cross country and track & field team.
Jones came to Texas pursuing a degree in biology with intentions of becoming a doctor before turning her attention to pharmaceuticals. She chose that academically rigorous path "so I would be able to interact with patients and help people."
As a student-athlete, those intense academic demands coupled with a series of injuries limited Jones' cross country performance. She didn't actively compete in races until her junior year.
"By then, I was ready to contribute to the team that has trained me and invested resources in me while I was hurt," Jones said.
It didn't take her long to contribute. She finished the year with a flourish, placing 62nd at the Big 12 Cross Country Championships, earning All-Big 12 honors as a member of the Texas distance Mmdley relay, and running three top-five times in the 1500m.
Jones is motivated in her last season with the Longhorns after she missed qualifying for the South Central Region meet in 2011 by four-tenths of a second. She draws her philosophy from a familiar area in which she also thrives, the classroom.
"Even if you get a C on the exam, you can still make an A for the class if you keep trying," she said.
This year, Jones hopes to help the Longhorns win titles.
"The cross country team has been qualifying for the national championships since my sophomore year. I feel that is the only way to really give back to the team, to score points when it really matters," Jones said. "As a fifth-year senior, finally figuring out how things work, I am mentally and physically ready to compete."
Academic diligence has become Jones' trademark as a Longhorn. It wasn't unusual for her to take 16 hours as an undergraduate, but the demands of her pharmaceutical degree are even greater, as she's now taking nine classes.
"That requires a different work load. Cross country has taught me how to persevere," Jones said. "In cross country when you start to have a weak moment it starts to pile on you. If you have a bad race or you move way back, you are kind of done in the race, if you allow yourself to be.
"You must be able to say, 'I didn't get what I wanted, but, all right, let's get back in it.'"
Jones credits her persistence to her willingness to take advantage of the academic resources at UT. She uses the printers to make hard-copies for all of her readings.
In fact, Jones credits mandatory study hall her freshman year as one of the elements of her strong academic foundation at UT.
"You could be athlete-students who are really here to focus on athletics and get by in school to pursue athletics. I think it's more," Jones said. "You need to work hard in school to stay eligible. There is that stat that they always show on the NCAA, '99 percent of student-athletes go pro in something other than sports.' It's easy to get wrapped up in the athlete part of it all and not the student part. We are student-athletes, thus we need to focus on both."