West Haven’s Ada Udaya sets her sights towards a spot on the Liberian Olympic team

(WTNH) — Ada Udaya, and her mother, Dweller Harris, joined SportzEdge hosts Noah Finz and John Pierson to discuss her story from childhood to another All-American season as a member of the University of New Haven track and field team.

Udaya described the experience of being on the UNH team.

“It’s been really great running for UNH. I think it was the best fit for me. I was going into college, I was scared about what was going to happen with me. Was I going to like the school and stay for awhile, but it ended up being a very good choice that I’ve made. I’ve had a lot of opportunities, especially getting a Bachelors of Science in Biology is really important to me because my mom is a nurse. I want to continue with the family [tradition], working in the hospital. And I also became a 16-time All-American.”

Udaya’s family is from Africa, specifically the country if Liberia. They decided to leave after the country plunged into its second civil war.

“There we so many days where there were people dying every day,” Harris said. “There was no end to the war.”

When asked what it was like around the family home in Liberia, Harris explained, “we were in the middle. There was homes being damaged. There were artillery being fired. People being killed every day.”

Udaya described the courage it took for her mother to risk bringing the family to America.

“She knew what happened, and it made her a stronger person. I see her going to work every day and just learning from her. She’s a single parent. She was full-time in school and she was a full-time worker. I just felt that she has the energy and the courage from the experience that she has.”

When asked if she got her speed from mom, Udaya smiled and said, “Probably.”

The family comes to the United States when Udaya was just 5-years-old. Harris enrolled herself in school, and she is now a nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Now, Udaya earned herself a scholarship to be an athlete at the University of New Haven. It really is the American Dream.

“America has done a lot for my family,” Harris said. “I’m so proud of my daughter. She’s completing her dream. She likes to run, and that’s all she likes to do is run, and win.”

Udaya now has a chance to compete for a spot on the Liberian National Team, and then try out for the Olympics.

“Now that I’m done with college, I’m able to go professional, but as of right now I’m taking some time off,” Udaya said. “A week or two, and then I’ll start training for worlds, which I am .07 away from a qualification. I’m so close. Worlds are this August, so I’m trying to get my times in before then.”

When asked if she thought if any of this would ever happen, Harris replied, “I had a dream, and hoped, and prayed that things would be better for us. It really turned out to be the best.”

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