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SFU donor community helps student-athlete run through adversity

July 04, 2023

SFU student and track and field athlete Megan Roxby has weathered her fair share of challenges. In grade 10, she recovered from 10 hours of innovative—and risky—spinal surgery to correct a severe curvature. What she calls a “wiry shoelace” is now tethered to her spine with a series of titanium screws to properly align her back. Two years later, a broken leg kept her out of action for two months. Megan graduated this spring with a BBA – Sustainable Business Joint Major (business, resource and environmental management) and a minor in Indigenous studies. She recently shared more about her experiences, what support from donors like you has meant, what she has learned about resilience and gratitude, and her future plans.

You faced significant adversity at a very young age. Can you tell us more about the impact of your recovery from surgery and your leg injury?

It was a hard recovery from surgery. It just turns your whole life on its head. It was crazy to lose so much independence for a 16-year-old. Plus I went three months without running. That was mentally hard as it’s something I really love to do—it clears my head and I find enjoyment and am able to connect with teammates and friends. I think the broken leg, in my mind and even when it was happening, I felt like I had done this before and knew how to rehab and cross train well. It allowed me to have a good head on my shoulders and stay positive. These are all things I carry with me today and I think it’s really helped me because I was able to mature from a young age.

Can you share a particular memory or experience from sfu that stands out for you?

Any time I’ve been able to go to Nationals with the team. It is such a privilege to get there; it’s a coveted spot and an experience that not everyone gets to have. I will especially remember those trips, as well as the day in and day out of racing and training, being able to have built-in friendships and time to see each other six or seven days a week.

The community that our coach, Brit Townsend, has built for both men and female athletes and the way that she facilitates such camaraderie among her athletes is amazing. We all work really hard but everyone always has fun in practice. She has a long-term view of all our athletes. Everyone does their best in their fourth and fifth year, and we reap the results as we develop. I give credit to Brit for much of my success and development as an athlete.

You’ve received a number of donor-funded student awards while at sfu. What does that support mean to you?

It’s a big contribution to take a little bit of pressure off. It’s allowed me to focus on my studies and training and competing without needing to have a job. It also helps cover some of those expenses (like runners and spikes) that aren’t covered by the school and the program. I’ve always greatly appreciated whatever support I’ve received. Tuition is expensive and I feel like it keeps getting more expensive. It’s nice to have that burden and a bit of stress off every semester.

What would you say to community members who are considering giving philanthropically to sfu and to student athletes?

My athletic endeavours have taught me how to work hard, to find direction in my academic life, and to balance all the different things that come with life. There is an interconnectedness between the athletic and the academic side, especially at SFU—we hold ourselves to very high standards on both those ends. We just have such great academics here and that sets us up for success in our careers and the workforce. I think donors just allow some of that to be made possible.

What’s next for you?

I’ll be staying at SFU! I want to push my academics—I don’t feel like I’m done! I’m going to be starting a master’s program in resource and environmental management (REM) within the planning stream. I think the REM program and the professors and support are awesome. I love Vancouver and we just have such a hub of environmental opportunities in the region. I’m lucky I ended up here!

During her undergraduate studies, Megan received support through the Andrea Abrams Athletic Award, Hal Werner Track and Field Award Endowment, Brit Townsend Track and Field Award Endowment, SFU Track and Field Endowment, and the Andrew Petter and Maureen Maloney Award Endowment in Varsity Women Athletes. SFU greatly appreciates donors like you whose generosity provides diverse opportunities for students.