Lia Love: Balancing academics, athletics, and community involvement

Published on February 13, 2024

portrait of Lia Love

Lia Love is a third-year undergraduate public health student. She’s also an outstanding member of the University of Iowa Women’s Track and Field team. Lia recently answered some questions about her interest in public health, balancing commitments as a student-athlete, and her involvement with groups and organizations outside of school and track.

Where is your hometown?

Durham, NC

What is your degree/program of study?

BS in public health

Why did you choose to study public health? What about it interests you?

I like that public health focuses on root causes of diseases/illnesses within communities to focus on creating solutions compared to looking at cases on an individual level. I enjoy that public health seeks to make changes that can eradicate or minimize illness/disease.

You’re also a member of the UI Women’s Track and Field team. How do you balance your athletic commitments with your time in the classroom?

I have been competing in track and field since I was in the second grade, so I have always had to balance both school and track. I focus a lot on time management, prioritizing, and staying organized. I keep a strict routine so that I allow myself time to complete all the tasks that arise, especially when traveling. It is not always easy, but I always look at my efforts as investments instead of sacrifices.

Are there skills and concepts that you have learned as a public health student that you can apply to athletics? Or things from athletics that apply to the classroom?

Lia Love running for the University of Iowa at a track event

As an athlete I have learned a lot about the importance of collaborating with a team. Although track and field is mostly an individual sport, we compete together in relays and compete for team championships. Having those interactions and developing my communication skills through my sport has translated well into my work towards becoming a public health practitioner. In public health you work with others very often, so I have found it easy to build relationships and work with my classmates toward a common goal.

You’re also the president of the UI’s Black Student-Athlete Alliance (BSAA) and are involved in a few other on-campus organizations. Tell us about that involvement and why you think it is important for students to engage with organizations and activities outside of the classroom?

As president of BSAA, my role is to create events, meetings, and community outreach opportunities for Black student athletes and allies. This has been the first year of BSAA and we have hosted different events at UI and within surrounding communities that have impacted our student athletes and community members. I am also a representative for ISAAC (Iowa Student Athlete Advisory Council) and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I believe it is important for students to engage with activities and organizations outside of the classroom as it broadens your outlook on the world. You begin to interact with diverse types of people and network with others who share similar goals. As an athlete, it is important to have an identity outside of sports, and being a part of these organizations has allowed me to discover my strengths and passions outside of being a track athlete.

What are your plans post-graduation?

I have recently applied to the graduate program to pursue an MPH in epidemiology. I would like to continue a career in public health as an epidemiologist post-graduation. Outside of public health, I want to compete as a professional athlete and make Olympic and World championship teams.

What have you enjoyed most about your time at the College of Public Health?

I have enjoyed building connections with staff, classmates, and administrators. I have felt extremely welcomed into the college, and everyone genuinely wants to see me succeed. I have also enjoyed regaining a love for school. Having the desire to go to class and be genuinely interested in the material that I am learning has been very encouraging to me. I love studying and learning material that I am interested in, and it has solidified that public health is the right track for me!

Top photo by Joey Loboda

Track photo courtesy of University of Iowa Athletics