Commencement 2017: URI track athlete encourages students to get involved as he prepares to graduate May 21

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Alexander McGrainer

KINGSTON, R.I.- April 18, 2017- For senior marketing major and captain of the track team Alexander McGrainer, the University of Rhode Island has truly become a home away from home.

But while trying to decide where he would pursue his undergraduate studies, McGrainer wrestled with which major he wanted to study. His choices were marine biology, teaching or marketing. URI was the only school that offered all three and a Division I athletic program. Ultimately, the academic opportunities were the deciding factor and McGrainer completed his senior year knowing that URI was on the horizon.

On May 21, McGrainer will earn his bachelor’s degree at URI’s commencement ceremonies.

Sports have been a motivating factor in McGrainer’s life since he was young, admitting that for most of high school, academics took a backseat to sports.

Since his freshman year of high school, McGrainer has been running track, which helped him realize the importance of being a part of something. “My high school team was very easygoing but extremely competitive at the same time,” said the Medford Lakes, N.J. native. “There were more than 100 guys on the team and we lost only three meets during my entire high school career.”

While high school track was an opportunity to hang out with friends, the benefits of competing at the Division I level soon became clear. The academic opportunity and financial support paired with the chance to meet new people appealed to McGrainer, who made his decision to attend URI during his junior year of high school.

“Once I started at URI, my focus was on track, school and involvement,” the middle distance runner said. “Track has been a source of self-motivation and has helped me reach short- and long-term goals.”

Beyond his running, McGrainer has been involved in Habitat for Humanity and the American Marketing Association. It has been his involvement with the track program, though, that has had the greatest impact on him during his time at URI.

“Being on the track team has been the center of my college career,” McGrainer said. “Anything socially, academically, or professionally can be attributed to the track team and connections I have made through this program. My fondest memories include friendships I made through track and relationships that I have established that I am confident will last beyond our final meet.”

Following the completion of his undergraduate studies, McGrainer plans to apply to several marketing agencies in South Jersey and return home for a couple of years. Looking back on his four years at the University of Rhode Island, there is one memory that sticks out the most.

“My greatest memory from my time here at URI was during my sophomore year when the track team won the Atlantic 10 championships by four points,” McGrainer said. “It was so humbling to see everyone contribute and to see that we actually pulled it off.”

McGrainer has been a member of the Atlantic 10 Academic All Conference Team for two years in a row and was the 2017 indoor Atlantic 10 champion for the 1000-meters.

For students looking to attend the University of Rhode Island and play a Division I sport, McGrainer has this advice: “Most of your life will be centered around athletics, but it is important to expand outside of that. Knowing people outside of the athletic program is invaluable.” For everyone else, McGrainer says to “open yourself up to new opportunities, you will not regret it.”
Olivia Ross, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations major, wrote this piece.