By John Frierson
Nicholas Yanek moves quickly. The Georgia distance runner makes miles pass by in no time, and this week he’s graduating with a degree in Biology in just three years. It’s amazing what he’s packed into those three years.
Along with competing in cross country and track, and logging about 100 miles a week of training to do so, Yanek has participated in the Georgia Student-Athlete Advisory Council — this year he served as Co-President alongside women’s tennis’ Meg Kowalski — but that’s just one of the many notable activities and responsibilities he’s enjoyed while also carrying a full course load.
Yanek also has served as Operations Chair of the UGA Student Alumni Council; he’s been a Peer Assisted Leadership mentor; he’s served as a lead researcher on a project in the Department of Kinesiology; he’s also been involved with the Tate Honor Society since his freshman year.
But the energetic and enthusiastic Yanek doesn’t just participate in campus activities, he serves in leadership roles.
“The most satisfying role would probably be being Co-President of SAAC, working alongside Meg,” he said. “That has been so exciting, taking on different projects and things. … Coordinating those ideas and seeing other student-athletes get engaged and involved is always really exciting, to see their commitment to things outside of sports.”
Stepping up and leading is something he’s done since he was young, he said, following in the footsteps of his parents, Jeremy and Toni, and his older sister, McKenzie.
“My parents, they worked really hard, so I guess that’s why I worked really hard,” he said. “That inspired me and kept me pushing the boundaries of what I can take on and do, trying different things to see if I enjoy it. My sister was also always really involved and a go-getter, so I think that also motivated me to do what she does, too.”
Yanek didn’t plan on graduating in just three years but when he switched his major from Exercise and Sport Science to Biology a year ago, he found that he was on track to finish early.
“I originally wanted to do undergrad in four years and then my fifth year here do a one-year MBA program, so I’d have some business knowledge before med school,” Yanek said. “When I switched my major, I ended up a year ahead, which is really weird.”
Up next for Yanek is the Masters of Business Administration program at Notre Dame. After that, medical school, and then he aims to open up his own practice one day. Based on his track record, that day may come sooner than anyone would expect.