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Olympic gold medalist encourages Class of 2016 to set goals, achieve dreams

Gold medalist Claire Donahue encouraged members of WKU’s Class of 2016 to dream Olympic-sized dreams, then remain committed to their goals and take advantage of opportunities for success.

Olympic gold medalist Claire Donahue, a 2011 WKU graduate, was the featured speaker at the Freshman Assembly on Sept. 4. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)

“When I young, my goal was to be in the Olympics,” Donahue told students Tuesday night during the Freshman Assembly at WKU’s Diddle Arena.

Achieving that goal required years of hard work, dedication, sacrifice, practice and support from her family. “I pushed myself beyond my limits,” said Donahue, a native of Lenoir City, Tenn., who graduated from WKU in December 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in social work.

This summer Donahue earned a spot on Team USA in the 100-meter butterfly and competed in the London Games. She became the first WKU Olympic athlete to ever claim a gold medal at the Summer Olympics after swimming the butterfly leg in the preliminary heats for Team USA in the 4×100 medley relay.

Donahue became just the second WKU athlete to compete in two separate events during the Olympics and placed seventh in the 100-meter butterfly. In the 2011 Pan American Games, Donahue won gold medals in the 100-meter butterfly and the 4×100 medley relay. Donahue is already training for her next goal — the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

While swimming in the Olympics had been her big goal for several years, Donahue told students that she set and achieved many smaller goals along the way whether in the classroom or the pool. One of those goals was attending college and being a member of the swim team.

“When I got to swim for WKU, I was extremely excited to be a student and an athlete,” she said.

WKU President Gary Ransdell said Donahue serves as a great role model for the Class of 2016 with her message of dreams, passion, persistence and achievement.

And he encouraged the students to make a commitment to achieve their top goal – finishing their degrees and graduating in 2016.

Contact: Cort Basham, (270) 745-6343.

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