Brought To You By NSU; Written by Leah Jackson

As a student-athlete and aspiring nurse Maygan Shaw is blazing a trail at Northwestern State University.  The junior sprinter from Pineville finished ninth out of 71 participants with a time of 54.63 in the 400-meter dash and, along with teammates, recorded another personal best (24.08) in the 200-meter at the Jarvis Scott Open in Lubbock, Texas, Feb. 9-10.


Shaw started the season ranked second in the Southland Conference in the 200-meters, just behind first-ranked teammate Sanaria Butler.  Earlier in February, the team traveled to Massachusetts to compete in the Crimson Elite at Harvard University and the Bruce Lehane Scarlet and White Invitational at Boston University. At the Crimson Elite, Shaw reached the prelims with a season-best 7.67 to finish 14th out of 77 runners. She followed that up with another season best, running a 7.64 to finish 18th. She was also part of the strong women’s 4×400 relay team that came in fourth place out of 21 teams.


With a 3.8 grade point average, Shaw has earned several honors as a student-athlete. As a freshman, she was named to the Commissioner’s Spring Honor Roll, was Women’s Freshman of the Year and an Athlete of the Week.  She was All-Southland Conference in Outdoor Track and Field First Team 4×400 meter relay; Outdoor Track and Field Second Team, 400m, and All-Southland Indoor Track and Field First Team, 400m.


NSU sat down with Maygan to talk about how she balances nursing clinicals with training and competition, her desire to help people and how she is preparing for the upcoming Southland Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Alabama, Feb. 25-26.  The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.  


Tell us about competition in Massachusetts. 


Maygan:  It was very organized and I really liked the environment. The people there were much louder but it raised the spirit and made everybody run much faster than we did before. It was great. I got to see a lot more things than I was ever used to, like hockey. I’ve only ever heard of [Harvard] on TV, so when I saw it in person I was like ‘This is amazing. It’s so beautiful.’


When did you first become an athlete? 


Maygan:  I first became an athlete when I was in elementary and I was running with [Rapides] Junior Runners.  That was for long distance.  I did the two-mile race and I was running against people much older than me and I kept coming in second place, so I was doing something right.  I’ve been running since then, nine years almost. My mom wanted me to get more involved in my school life, so when I started junior high, she put me in multiple sports and when I tried track I just happened to be really good at running fast and turning left, so I started doing track in seventh grade up until now.


Do you or did you play other sports? 


Maygan: I did play soccer but I was absolutely horrible, so I stopped playing soccer.  I could not kick the ball, I couldn’t pass, I couldn’t dribble. I’m not coordinated at all.


Do you come from an athletic family?


Maygan: My mom used to run track, my dad used to high jump, so yes, I do come from an athletic family.


You’ve had an impressive start this year.  What are some goals that you have set for yourself?  


Maygan: My long-term goal since junior high has been to run a 51 in the 400-meter dash and I’m getting really close. That is the goal that my grandpa had made.  He ran 51 seconds when he was in high school and I want to beat him or run at the same pace. [He is now deceased.] I really want to do this for both him and myself because it would be a great achievement. 


What are some important competitions that are coming up? 


Maygan: Conference.  Indoor conference is coming up and really excited for it. I’m running a lot faster than I did last year, so I’m ready for my time to start coming down and ready for the competition.  I really think that the girls are going to win this year. 


What are some things you’ve learned about competing as a student-athlete? 


Maygan: I learned that you really have to learn a balance being a student and an athlete.  It’s not one or the other. You have to be engaged in both communities and communicate with your coaches and communicate with your professors and make sure you’re staying ahead of the game and using that competitive energy you have as an athlete in the classroom as well.


At the meets when I’m getting ready for my races I’m also studying and studying helps me have less stress about my race because it’s taking my mind off  of ‘Oh, I’m about to run the 400.  I’m going to die.’ But after you study you’re like ‘I’m chill now. I’m ready.’


Do you have a close bond with your teammates?


Maygan: I do. I love every single one of them.  They’re funny, they’re interesting, they’re different. Every single one of them has their own personality and it’s great to just have that positive energy. No negative energy on this team. 


Why did you choose nursing as a career path?


Maygan: I chose nursing because ever since I was little I’ve always admired what they could do and I have a lot of nurses in my family, which inspired me.  I want to help people.  God blessed me with empathy and compassion to help others and I’m going to use it, so why not nursing?


What are some of your other interests or hobbies besides school and running?


Maygan: I love to draw and I love to write.  I’ll write mini-novels or draw sceneries, pictures, people, anime.   


Are you in clinicals right now? 


Maygan:  As for clinicals, they have been stressful, but I’m learning how to balance it with my track schedule and communicating with my professors has made it really easy.  I love the hands-on experience. It’s much better than being cooped up in a classroom. Clinicals are the best part of nursing.  Honestly.  It’s so much more fun than three-hour or four-hour classes. When you learn those things you get to apply them, so it sticks with you.  That’s what I like about nursing as a whole. You’re learning things in class and actually applying them, as opposed to Algebra III…I’m not going to be at the gas pump learning, “What the square root of I don’t even know.”


Are you able to do your clinicals here in Natchitoches and what’s been your favorite rotation?


Maygan:  I am.  I’m so happy that I am.  Next semester I might not be able to. I’ll have to go to Alexandria or Shreveport because they don’t have pediatrics here in Natchitoches. So far I’ve only done med-surge and geriatric care so, geriatrics [is my favorite.]  I love working with people older than me.  I like to hear their stories and what they’ve been through.  It’s a great environment.


Do you feel like your professors have been really accommodating to suit your schedule around track and field? 


Maygan: They have been very nice. Every time I’m at a meet and I have a test they let me take the test right afterwards or if I need extra time for something they’ll give me extra time.  It’s not like it’s an unfair advantage because I’m also competing for hours where I can’t pick up a book and study. They are really understanding of my schedule and they will make time for me.


What would you say to a prospective student-athlete about Northwestern?


Maygan: I would say this is a really nice school.  The people are nice, the community is nice, everybody is really accommodating to your schedule.  You get used to dorm life and school life and the food. It’s a nice campus. 


Editor’s Update: The NSU women’s team dominated in the 200-meter dash at the Southland Conference Championships Sunday, Feb. 25, earning a spot in Monday’s finals. Shaw ran a personal-best 24.03 to place second in the event, as the top eight advance to the finals.

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