Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Elizabeth Denehy - Story of Self

My name is Elizabeth Denehy, and I am a junior at Harvard University, concentrating in Psychology with a secondary in Economics and living in Mather House. Throughout my time at Harvard, I found interests and joy in many extracurriculars, such as Women in Business, the Women's Cabinet, Student Athlete Wellness Leader, and being a member of the varsity field hockey team. Through these organizations, I have been able to develop my leadership skills and broaden my interests; however, the organization that I have spent a lot of time developing and devoting time to is the Undergraduate Women of Harvard Athletics (uWHA).

Before Harvard, I attended an all-girls high school and middle school in New Jersey. While I played many other sports growing up, the one I fell in love with and excelled at was field hockey. When I was recruited to play varsity field hockey at Harvard, I was so excited to continue my athletic journey beyond high school. What I did not think about at the time was how my high school experience shaped me as an athlete. 

Looking back, what I loved about my high school was how supportive the other students and administrators were of their athletes. Many of my classmates and I faced similar struggles and were not afraid to voice them, which resulted in changes such as new uniforms and fan buses to important away games. When I came to Harvard, I noticed a dramatic shift. Being at an all-girls school, I was sheltered from the difference between men's and women's sports. There was no longer an organized group of large women that I could talk to about my struggles as athlete. In 2019, this feeling changed when three girls (two from the field hockey team) founded uWHA made directly for this kind of community. I immediately became involved in it and served as a member of the first board on the Alumni Committee. I then became the Head of Alumni and Development but was only able to be involved during the summer of 2020 as I took the 2020-2021 school year off. Finally, I was elected Co-President of the club 2021-2022 school year. 

Since joining uWHA, I have made so many fantastic friendships and have developed many skills. I have found purpose in helping other women who consider themselves athletes and want to continue to foster a community in which everyone feels supported. uWHA is such an essential part of my college experience and want to spread the effects of the community, which is why I continue to invest so much of my time and energy into it. 

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