Sweat drips off Rosa Granados forehead as she glides through the air finishing her race. It’s like Granados is in an empty stadium with just her and the track.
Granados ran a 10,000 meter race with a 36:27:66 time March 31 at the Mike Fanelli Classic meet in San Francisco. She currently ranks 18 place nationally and number six all time in Cal Poly Humboldts top ten list for 10k races. If she qualifies for a provisional mark, meaning she would have to maintain her place and one of the best times of this race to meet the standards of excellence, she could be considered by the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II for a place in the national meet.
“I feel as if I am me because I was able to go through all of what I went through and I think I’ve been a leader in a different way — where I’ve been a leader within my spirit and the things that I want in my life and how I can make that better,” Granados said. “That might have been different, you know when I was like a third grader. Or 12 years old or 13 years old trying to get out of the foster care system. I was a different leader then. I kind of had to get it together and survive and move on and do something different.”
Granados began her journey at Cal Poly Humboldt in 2017 as a first-generation student athlete. She received her bachelor’s degree in social work in spring 2021 and is now in her first year pursuing her masters of social work degree.
Granados was brought to the United States at just a few months old and grew up in San Luis Obispo. She had a challenging childhood growing up in the foster care system. Granados struggled through homelessness just before college. When she found running as a teenager, it ignited a fire within her.
“… I have a skill of running that helps me more than I help the sport I’d say,” Granados said.
She was recruited to cross country and track her freshman year at Arroyo Grande High School. There she held a spot on the varsity teams all four years of high school.
Running competitively has been a huge outlet for Granados to channel her energy and emotions into something healing.
She started running for the university in 2017 and got a scholarship to continue running through her master’s program. Granados competes in a variety of long distance events for track including 4 x 4, 800, 1500, 5k and 10k. For cross country she runs 5k and 6k.
“She’s made tremendous progress as an athlete, but as a person, as a leader, as a member of the team and a member of the community, that’s where she’s made incredible progress and just become a tremendous leader for our program,” said Jamey Harris, head cross country coach at Cal Poly Humboldt.
Commitment to Community
Beyond running, Granados shows commitment to helping people get access to resources they need to be healthy and successful.
She was a member of the sorority Delta Phi Epsilon all through her undergrad where she moved her way up to President in spring of 2021.
Granados is vice president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee where she has helped the athletic department host events like canned food drives after campus closed due to COVID-19. She is also currently working to provide mental health resources for athletes by implementing “Dam Worth It,” on campus.
While working at the McKinleyville Family Resource Center Granados also helps about 30 clients from all different backgrounds. She guides them in finding agencies that can provide housing, food and other resources they need.
“It’s interesting to see the different communities and the hope that they hold of just calling, and finding the courage to ask for help and it’s cool for me to be there,” Granados said. “I feel like when I meet these people it definitely feels like my community too and it feels like I make an impact, but most importantly I make a connection in the world.”
Geneva Shaw is a master of social work faculty member here at Cal Poly Humboldt, who has worked closely with Granados both as an undergrad and graduate student.
“Rosa’s work ethic is absolutely admirable. Rosa juggles her academics, athletics, professional development and service with grace and a smile, always,” Shaw said. “And to back up that smile and positivity is a toughness and fire that makes Rosa someone you want on your team.”
Granados is the president of the Student Social Work Association. She helped start and grow the club to about 18 members. The SWSA provides resources and opportunities for students to learn and practice social work with a focus in Indigenous and rural communities.
In Associated Students, Granados is the External Affairs Representative. While the university is receiving funding as it transitions to a polytechnic, Granados wants to make sure leaders of student government use their voice to ensure that students’ needs are prioritized.
“First let’s take care of the three things that students need: housing, food and mental health,” Granados said about the university becoming a Cal Poly. “We have to take care of that first, and then we can take care of everything else.”
After graduating with her masters in social work degree spring 2023, Granados plans to continue being a leader and helping the community through policy work.
With such a busy schedule Granados says self-care and making time for herself is the thing that helps her balance it all. Her advice to students on campus is to take care of yourself and seize opportunity.
“Get involved. Get connected. Share your truth. Be a warrior. Do some good work. Get good grades, make good choices,” Granados said. “And just have fun, be light with yourself.”