Sydney Clifford’s Efforts to Develop Grit

Sydney Clifford photo
A lot has changed on campus over the last year. One difference that students have been talking a lot about recently is how challenging it is to schedule everything. Last year, everything was online. You could roll out of bed, have class and then hop right into your next meeting without having to worry about going anywhere. This year, students are balancing more opportunities with the need to travel to class and meetings. That can get overwhelming.

Sydney Clifford knows about being overwhelmed and how to work through those feelings. In high school, her cross-country team used the Finnish word “sisu”, roughly translating to grit, determination and resilience, to inspire them to push through pain and focus on what was ahead of you. At Purdue, Sydney uses this same ethos to have the determination to continue to put forth her best effort even when she’s exhausted. She looks at her schedule at the beginning of the week and schedules out each day, being careful to build in time to recharge. She sees it as similar to when she had rest days in cross country.

“In order to be able to push through, you need to be able to recharge at some point,” Sydney says.

Sydney also has built quite a network at Purdue that helps her when she needs support. She has taken her mom’s advice that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” to inspire her to take every opportunity to get to know others. Her efforts had the unexpected outcome of connecting her to Purdue Dance Marathon where she now serves in supporting high school marathon relations. She’s realized that these relationships can only help you if you are vulnerable with one another.

“Just opening yourself up is huge,” Sydney says.

You might be struggling right now and wondering how you can balance it all. Look to your network, find the things in your life that can help you have “sisu”, or look to resources across campus such as Student Support Services.