By Anne Hartman Raether
When Taylor Campos started track as a sixth-grader, she often was among the last to cross the finish line. These days, she counts the Wendy’s High School Heisman—an award given annually to two of the country’s most esteemed scholar-athletes—as one of her many honors. The Lemont, Illinois, native is now a first year at UChicago and has taken her talents to the women’s cross country and track and field teams.
Though success in the sport did not come immediately, her competitive drive kicked in early. She eventually became one of Lemont High School’s top athletes, posting a school-record time of 17:56 minutes on the three-mile course. She spent two years as team captain for the track and field and cross country squads, and led the cross country team to a fourth-place finish at the state finals in 2014—the best finish in the team’s history.
Her drive to succeed—which she credits her parents for—was obvious in the classroom too. She maintained a 4.5 GPA, is a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist, and even joined an elite group of students who earned a perfect score of 36 on the ACT.
Campos’s coach encouraged her to apply for the Wendy’s High School Heisman. She admits she was stunned when family, coaches, and a Wendy’s representative showed up at her school to tell her she was one of 10 national finalists.
Campos got the chance to travel to New York City with the nine other finalists, visiting the 9/11 Museum, taking a graffiti tour, and ice skating at Rockefeller Center. Campos was announced as one of the two Wendy’s High School Heisman winners during a ceremony while on the trip. The honor earned her free trips to New York City each December, and the opportunity to attend both the Wendy’s High School Heisman and Heisman Trophy ceremonies.
“It’s a validation of what I worked hard to do in high school,” Campos said of the award. “I wasn’t looking for an award for it, but it is really nice to be recognized.”
When it came time to select a college, Campos had UChicago in mind because of its academic prestige—but it was the school’s quirkiness that sealed the deal (SCAV in particular is on Campos’s must-do list). Campos will study comparative human development and biology with the hopes of becoming a pediatrician.
This autumn will also mark the kick-off of Campos’s first cross country season at UChicago. In her short time on the team, she’s come to count her teammates not only as fellow athletes, but as great friends as well.
“Taylor is clearly a very driven athlete,” Head Coach Chris Hall said. “I love that type of heart and dedication and I believe it will take her far as an athlete.”