New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

In the Huddle: Thrower Michelle Uvieghara sets an example on the track and beyond

Junior track & field athlete Michelle Uvieghara spoke to WSN about her experience on the team and being awarded the NYU athletic department’s MLK Award for the 2023-24 academic year.
Lianna O’Grady
Junior Michelle Uvieghara. (Lianna O’Grady for WSN)

Junior Michelle Uvieghara is an NYU program record holder and has been a top scorer in discus and shot put for the women’s track and field team. Not only is the Florida native on the Second Team All-UAA for the outdoor discus, but she is also most recently the 2023-2024 recipient of the athletic department’s MLK Award. According to NYU’s athletic department, the award is given to recognize student-athletes who exemplify the characteristics promoted by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and sportsmanship in and out of the NYU community. 

She is the Womxn of Excellent, Strength and Tenacity president and vice president of Tenacity for Violets in Healthcare. She believes in advocating and creating spaces for people of color, particularly women, and for students going through similar challenges as herself. 

In an interview with WSN, Uvieghara spoke about her experience on and off of the field. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


WSN: What does receiving the athletic department’s MLK award mean to you? 

Uvieghara: What I do really isn’t with the intention of, “Oh, I want to be a leader on campus.” It’s just doing stuff that I enjoy and that I feel is important to me. Getting this award just kind of shows that my work isn’t fruitless — it’s a lot of stuff that you do that you don’t necessarily talk about. People are watching you, which is such a big thing to me because I feel like things that I didn’t realize anyone would necessarily care about, they do care about it. It seems like a validation of my work.

WSN: As an upperclassman on the track and field team, how are you able to commit to creating a positive community? 

Uvieghara: To be so real, I say to stay out of other people’s business. The biggest part is just owning up to what you need to do and staying on top of your own stuff, but also reaching a helping hand to people who ask you. I think teams can be really good, like they’re family — you go on trips with each other and you compete with each other, but I also think there’s a line. People have things they’re handling in their own way and they have their own personal lives. So recognizing that and not mixing it up with what’s team-related helps in promoting a good team atmosphere, from my end, at least. I try to be respectful of my teammates, but if there’s something you can do better, I feel like I’m willing to call people out on that. 

 Uvieghara’s ability to help foster a welcoming environment and great team culture has led the track team to success this year, with four athletes qualifying for the NCAA championships this past weekend.

WSN: What have been the toughest challenges you have faced while on the track and field team, and how have you navigated through them? 

Uvieghara: As a pre-med student, you have a lot of classes that intersect with practice. That was a challenge because it led to me having to practice by myself or communicate with my coaches on where and how I’m practicing, and really organizing my schedule even more than before. Another challenge was my sophomore year, when we didn’t have a throws coach. It was the year that I did really well in discus and actually broke the school’s record, but I also did not compete as well as I wanted to at our championship meet. 

Lastly, the biggest challenge is very recent — I tore my ACL in my left knee. It’s teaching me that there are so many other areas that you can improve in. With your ACL, you realize how much all your muscles have to do. To give an analogy: It feels like I am a tower and I took out one piece of foundation and now the other pieces need to work harder to stabilize the tower. I’m having the opportunity to realize there’s a lot that I can improve on strength-wise. It’s changing my mindset of focusing on one thing really well and not necessarily paying attention to other factors that I could work on or do better in. 

Prior to her injury, she set a personal best and school record of 40.15m in discus as a first-year and was named the program’s MVP for the 2022 indoor season. After her surgery, she will spend a year recovering from her ACL injury in order to return to action for her senior season next spring. 

WSN: What are you looking forward to for the rest of this season and for your final year on NYU’s women’s track and field team? 

Uvieghara: Well, besides my surgery, I’m looking forward to seeing how my team does the rest of this season. It’s my junior year, so of course I would have loved to be competing, but I’m still rooting for my teammates, and I’m excited to see what they do in the outdoor season. We have a good cohort that just needs the right amount of time to strengthen and develop ourselves. To be a little more ambitious, I really do want to get gold at our UAA championship in either shot put or discus. It’s a hope and it wouldn’t hurt to break another record. I really do think I can hit the school’s record for shot put too, so I’m excited for all of that.


Contact Nicole Ranile at [email protected].


Correction, March 14: A previous version of the article correctly stated the title of Michelle Uvieghara. Michelle Uvieghara is the president of Womxn of Excellent, Strength and Tenacity. The article has been corrected; WSN regrets this error.

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