A hobby that began during her high school years, Aileen Flanagan '86 made running her strength and worldwide journey as she battled with cancer.
Throughout her time at Seton Hall, first as a nursing student then a finance major, Flanagan always made time for running. Although she continued doing so in her professional career as well, it wasn't until she turned 40 years old that she made the decision to become a marathon runner. She remembers driving past the New York City Marathon and telling herself, "I can do that." And so, the training to run her first marathon began.
Each day Flanagan passionately trained, getting closer and closer to becoming fully prepared for her first marathon. However, just days after Christmas in 2013, she learned she had a new challenge to face – battling breast cancer. Although an adverse situation, Flanagan was not discouraged, she found support in her running communities, Rose City Runners and The Chatham Club, "When you are part of a club, ethnicity, social status, age or sexual preference does not make a difference, we are all working for the same goal and support each other," said Flanagan recalling the empowerment she felt during that time.
After three attempts, Flanagan's registration was finally accepted into the Boston marathon in 2016. She caught the marathon bug upon completing her first and opened the door for new adventures – taking her running shoes overseas. From the Great Wall of China to King George Island in Antarctica, Flanagan is one of just 26 women in the world to be recognized as a seven-continent half marathon runner. With 12 more states to go in the U.S., the avid runner is currently working on her new goal of completing a half marathon in all 50.
When Flanagan is not running, she is often volunteering for local running clubs and organizations, fundraising for social causes and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She encourages all young Pirates to find a passion and to work hard and genuinely to achieve their goals, "It's a matter of getting out there and knowing that when you are done, you will be a better version of yourself, " said the ambitious Pirate.
For Flanagan, Seton Hall not only offered a great educational environment but also prepared every student professionally to succeed in the field of their choice. The alumna is thankful to her professors and advisors for their guidance, specially her finance professor and role model, Dr. Hampton, who tutored and guided her throughout her time as a student.
Aileen Flanagan is one of 100 alumni profiles Seton Hall Alumni Relations will feature this year in celebration of reaching an alumni network of 100,000.
To read more about what great minds can do at Seton Hall, visit www.shu.edu/100K.