Texas Tech University

Usoro balances academics and accolades on way to the Olympics

Liz Inskip-Paulk

June 8, 2021

Life as a College of Media & Communication undergraduate student can stay very busy, but when you add qualifying for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games this summer and holding the rank of being first in your home country to qualify for both the long jump and the triple jump, life can increase exponentially.

Ruth Usoro, a junior communication studies major from Akwa-Ibom State, Nigeria, is a student-athlete on the Texas Tech University Track and Field  team and is focused on two main things right now: her academic success and her athletic training.

Evidence says she's doing a great job at both. Usoro was recently recognized as Women's Performer of the Year for the 2021 Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Awards. Additionally, she was given the Big 12 Athlete of the Year and the Big 12 High Point Scorer awards.

“I was so surprised to hear about these honors, and I am so grateful to TTU Coach [Wes] Kittley and to [TTU Associate] Coach James Thomas,” she says. “I'm also grateful to my late Coach Uruemu Adu in Nigeria for his support as well.”

Texas Tech student athlete Ruth Usoro

Usoro began her athletic odyssey in West Texas starting on the Track and Field team at South Plains College.

“When I was there, I was running at an indoor meet in 2018 at the TTU track facilities and met TTU Coach Thomas,” she recalls. “After that, I was always communicating with him, and I am very happy with my decision to attend Texas Tech. I believe that God led me here, and I'm perfectly fine with that.”

As a communication studies major, Usoro's favorite CoMC classes so far have been the speech courses.

“I realized how important speech is and that it will help me to go a long way,” she says. “I learned how important it is to have little pauses when you speak. I have an accent, so it's important to me that people hear what I have to say, and taking small breaks helps with that.”

Along with that, Usoro has also learned that as a student-athlete, effective time management is an important skill to have.

“Athletes know that we have less free time than other students, and it's critical to take care of your academic classes,” she says. “When your sport is over, you will need something to fall back on, and that is when you will be glad you paid attention in the classroom.”

Unlike other Red Raider undergrads, however, Usoro is focused on the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“I'm so excited about this, and I thank God and my coach,” says Usoro. “Coach Thomas said he could see me making the Olympic team, and I'm so grateful for that. He could see what I could not at that time.”

Student athlete Ruth Usoro

Usoro's advice for other undergraduate students includes the idea that everything will work out with dedication to yourself.

“Know that you should never neglect your talent if it can open doors for you,” she says. “Even if you're doing well academically, never neglect your studies. We are not made to become average.”

“I could not have done this without my coaches and other track staff or without my family who allowed me to come to the US to follow my dreams and academics.”

With the Olympics in her sights this summer, Usoro is tightly focused on both her academics and on her sport.

“I'm very honored to be in this position, and I'm working very hard to succeed.”


Photos courtesy of Texas Tech Athletics