Taking Every Shot: Widener Senior Finds Success on the Field and in the Classroom
Anna Cooney has earned an All-American honor in track and field, and a nursing excellence award in her clinical work. Both her athletic and academic pursuits have taught her how to adjust and adapt to whatever comes her way.
- School of Nursing
In spring 2021, Anna Cooney ’22 traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina to compete in the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Anna, who throws for the Pride, qualified to represent Widener in both shot put and hammer throw. By the end of the competition, she had claimed 16th place in the hammer and fifth in shot put, earning her an All-America honor. The fifth-place finish was also the highest placement for a Widener women's team member since 2014.
It was an amazing feat especially considering Anna has only been competing in track and field since junior year of high school, and lost a year of collegiate competition due to the pandemic shutdown.
But through strength, hard work, and determination, she has distinguished herself in the sport and has continued to push herself during her time at Widener, finding a way to balance her athletic pursuits with her academics, as she works toward completing her nursing degree.
I think back at my little freshman self, trying to throw the shot put, and then where I am now, and I know there was a point to all of this. I am so blessed and so thankful for all the opportunities that Widener has given me. — Anna Cooney ‘22
Anna credits much of her success on the field, and in the classroom, to a strong community of support at Widener made up of professors and coaches, friends and teammates. Even during remote learning, her coaches stayed connected and on top of her training and academics. Anna certainly faced setbacks – losing a season of eligibility and the chance to compete at the prestigious Penn Relays. But it “really fueled me for the spring (2021) outdoor season,” and she ended up qualifying for nationals.
“Track and field can sometimes become an individual support, and yes, I went to nationals, but if the team wasn’t there supporting me, I wouldn’t have made it,” said Anna.
Anna sees a strong correlation between her athletic and academic pursuits. Both are a “huge game of adjusting and being adaptable. Both require working hard and I’m a hard-working student. It’s why I got to my fourth year of nursing,” she said.
Anna took her time finding her place at Widener, not jumping into too many activities her first year. She advises others to do the same. Now, as a senior, she has embraced as many opportunities as she can, serving as a C.R.E.W. orientation leader and a senior resident assistant. The lifelong dancer recently joined the Pride Pack Dance Team.
“We’re blessed that we have four years of college and can constantly add things to our plate if we can handle them,” said Anna. “There are so many opportunities on campus to be yourself; dance, track, and nursing are all parts of who I am. And being so busy has made me more organized.”
Since she was a child, Anna has loved anatomy and is compelled to take care of others. Nursing was a logical career choice. “I want to help people on their worst days and their best days,” she said, noting that COVID-19 has only strengthened her resolve to join the profession.
The Lancaster County native chose Widener because of its proximity to Philadelphia and the chance to conduct clinical rotations at some of the region’s world-class hospitals and medical centers. While at Widener, Anna has worked at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Crozer-Chester Medical Center, and other places. She even earned a clinical excellence award from the School of Nursing for helping a patient.
“The School of Nursing puts you in areas where you really have to test yourself,” said Anna. “When I first started, I thought I had no idea what I was doing. But I was equipped with the knowledge I needed. I was able to apply the knowledge I had been taught.”