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Abigail Grant ’18

Abigail Grant

For many students, college is about expanding horizons, thinking independently, and overcoming adversity. But Abigail Grant ’18 is one of those special students who gained these experiences at a much younger age.

At eight years old, the Suwanee, Georgia, resident was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, and underwent extensive chemotherapy and surgeries for a year. The experience exposed her to an often private world of struggle. “I saw how hard families were hit financially when dealing with a health crisis, which led to the birth of my nonprofit foundation called Grant Me Strength,” Grant says. “We raised over $30,000 in the first year through the sales of a blue ‘Grant Me Strength’ wristband and charitable donations—aiding families in everyday expenses with which hospital and federal programs didn’t assist.”

This rough patch in Grant’s life seemed daunting at the time, but it taught her a lesson some people never figure out. “You can sit around, feel sorry for yourself, and think you were dealt a bad hand—or you can shift focus from your situation to helping others and make a bigger impact in someone else’s life,” she says.

Grant’s battle with cancer had a happy ending, and eventually she reached the age where she could just focus on her college search. She wanted a school with top-tier academics, a basketball program that competed at the highest level, and a family atmosphere. From her first campus visit, Syracuse University felt like home.

Being a student-athlete gave Grant a different set of experiences too. “I immediately had 15 friends—my basketball teammates—before the semester even started. They were very inclusive and made sure the freshman players made an easy transition from high school to college,” Grant says. “On the other hand, I was challenged. I had to discipline myself physically during 6 a.m. workouts and late flights back home after games. I learned to manage my time and give academics even more focus and importance than I gave basketball.”

Grant believes Syracuse’s best quality is the family atmosphere embodied by its students, professors, coaches, and players. She’ll always remember last year’s women’s basketball NCAA tournament run. “We flew back to Syracuse late in the evening, after beating Tennessee in the Elite Eight to send us to Indianapolis for the Final Four and National Championship. The next day I walked into class, and everyone just started clapping and congratulating me,” she says. “It was so special to see the camaraderie and support the student body and staff have for each other—whether it’s an accomplishment in basketball, field hockey, band, or academics, there will always be recognition from the campus community.”

An international relations major with a focus on economics, Grant is particularly interested in how global markets react to each other, and how businesses are successfully run or rebuilt. She aspires to apply her competitiveness, discipline, and studies to the workplace in the business/banking and financial sector.

Grant also hopes to give back abundantly, in gratitude to those who influenced her. “My teammates have been welcoming since I walked on campus, my coaches push me to be the best person I can be on and off the court, my professors have been supportive and challenge me to work hard in the classroom, and the alumni have been extremely encouraging and motivating,” Grant says. “I want to continue building on my foundation and making a difference in the lives of others.”