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Sydney CliffordSydney Clifford, a senior at Westfield High School, enjoys the challenges of juggling several school activities and sports.

“I’m on the cross-country, swimming, and track teams,” Clifford says. “These three sports have taught me what it means to be tough and persevering. Running and swimming are two of the hardest sports out there, especially because you have to have the discipline to keep pushing, even when you are uncomfortable.”

Her coaches have been a great source of inspiration.

“My coaches have had a huge influence on not just my athletics, but on who I am as a person,” Clifford says. “My cross country and track coaches, Scott Lidskin, Shane Moore and Roger Wachtel, have instilled in me the idea of sisu, a Finnish word that roughly translates to English as stubborn determination. On the cross-country course and on the track, I use sisu to push through those tough moments in a race. Outside of athletics, I still use this concept of sisu to demonstrate determination and perseverance whenever I have a tough project or a bad day.”

Darrick Thomas, Clifford’s swim coach, has taught her that you can always keep swimming, and that you can always dive into a new challenge.

“I joined the swim team my sophomore year, and to be totally honest I’m not the best swimmer on the team,” Clifford says. “But regardless, coach Thomas truly cares about each and every athlete on the team, and has encouraged me to continue to keep going.”

Clifford, who is also active with Westfield High School’s student newspaper, has big plans for the future.

“While I do love to write, I plan on going into the medical field after high school,” she says. “However, I still want to be able to use my ability to write and communicate ideas wherever I end up.”

Clifford is also president of the school’s Dance Marathon fundraiser event for Riley Hospital for Children.

“My biggest philosophy for what I do is engagement – with the community, with committee members, with Westfield High School, with sponsors, and with Riley families,” Clifford says. “I’m so excited to see all of our hard work pay off.”

Clifford likes making a difference in her school and community.

“The thing that I enjoy the most about making a difference in the community and my school is the connections I have made in the process, whether that is with the people I’m helping or the people I’m helping with,” she says.

Clifford is still deciding on which college to attend.

“I’m considering between IU, IUPUI and Purdue,” she says. “I’m planning on double majoring in biology and Spanish, with a pre-med or pre-physician assistant track.”

Wherever Clifford goes, Westfield will always be a big part of her.

“Westfield has been such an incredible community to help me set my roots,” she says. “St. Maria Goretti Catholic School and Westfield High School have helped to instill in me a genuine curiosity for learning, and an instinctive drive to help others.”

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