Around The Yard: Nani Redford

Returning to for a fourth season, "Around The Yard: Life As A Harvard Student-Athlete" explores life away from the playing fields for select Harvard student-athletes through their own first-person narrativeFor a full list of blog entries, click here.

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Nani Redford
December 6, 2017

The thought of me going to Harvard never amazed me as much as it amazes others until the summer after my freshman year. When I first committed, I was excited not because its Harvard, but instead because of the people I would have the opportunity to spend time with. After meeting the other three girls in my recruiting class, I could not wait to be with them for four years and I had high hopes of befriending many other remarkable people.  

I am a first-generation student, so I had never had much discussion about college outside of the schools recruiting me for basketball. I did not know exactly what to look for in a school or what type of school I wanted to attend. The recruiting process and college process was a learning experience for me and my parents. But, my official visit to Harvard made it clear that I was meant to be here.  

During the summer after freshman year, I had the opportunity to go to Africa for two months. Two months was a long time to be out of the country and so far away from home and comfort, but luckily, I had one of my teammates and good friends with me. We had the opportunity to coach basketball and mentor children in a small, rural town two hours outside of Johannesburg and visited Johannesburg several times a week for work. We didn’t have much access to our phones and computers and most of our time was spent with the people we worked with and the children we coached. Like I said, two months is a long time so we got pretty close with the people we met there. We ate meals together, hung out on the weekends, went on excursions, and even gave them a couple broken ankles on the court. As I sat on the 14-hour plane ride back to New York, all I could think about is the fact that I was just in South Africa. A country I may not have ever visited with inspiring people I may not have ever met had it not been for Harvard and the people I met here. This is when I realized this is what Harvard is about, this is why people should be amazed that I am going to Harvard. Not because of the academics, but because of the people you will meet, the opportunities you come across, and the experiences you will have. 

When I go home, people often ask about Harvard with the same amazement as when I first committed. I often give simple answers to keep the conversation brief, but I often reflect on how astonishing it really is. I have met so many people that will be lifetime friends and experienced so many things that I may not have if I were not here. Most of us only have four years here, so take advantage of it, meet people, try things, take chances, find your answers to why Harvard is amazing.