Geneseo alumna imparts wisdom during All-College lecture series

Nearly every Geneseo student has struggled walking up the hills to their classes. Some days are worse than others, but when you finally reach the top, there is an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. 

As hard as the hills may seem, do you think you could tackle a 70-day, 4,000-mile bike ride across the country? 

That’s what Sophia Garber ’17 did this past summer after she graduated in May. As a student, Garber studied psychology, communication and dance. 

Garber delivered an All-College speaker address in the MacVittie College Union Ballroom on Wednesday Dec. 6. During her senior year she was uncertain about what she was going to do after graduation, so she decided to sign up for the 4k for Cancer Ride. 

The program was organized through the Ulman Cancer Fund and involved a bike ride from coast to coast—starting in Baltimore and ending in San Francisco.  

Garber was skeptical at first and was not sure if she could conquer this adventure, but some advice from a friend of hers helped her make the decision.

“She told me that as humans we have this instinctual ability to make the right decision, to choose what’s right for us,” Garber said. “That we shouldn’t trust our head, we shouldn’t trust our heart, but we should trust our gut. ” 

Every participant had to raise a minimum of $4,500 for the Ulman Cancer Fund. Garber ended up raising almost $10,000. 

The journey was not easy. There were many tough times where tears were shed, but there were also numerous happy times, according to Garber. 

Every morning the team of 19 riders participated in a dedication circle. Each participant would go around and say the name of the person they were riding for that day. Then Garber and some of the other participants wrote the name of that person on their arms and legs.

“Whenever we were about to bike up a hill that just looked horrendous, or anytime someone’s tire popped and it was 104 degrees I looked down at my legs and I remembered why I was doing this,” she said. “Through every painful moment, every challenging second, we used their names as motivation.” 

Garber noted that she learned three important lessons while on this journey. The first was to never underestimate the difference you can make in the life of just one person. The second was to never doubt. The last was to be the sunshine in everyone’s lives. 

On the first day of their trip, the cyclists all dipped their back tires into the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. On the last day—when they finished the ride—they dipped their front tires into the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco. 

“On Aug. 12 at 3:18 p.m., I rode my bike across the Golden Gate Bridge and completed a 70-day, 4,000-mile bike ride called the 4k for Cancer. I remember hugging my teammates and looking back at the Golden Gate bridge and realizing that I had just made it across the country,” Garber said. “This journey gave me strength, it gave me friendships, it gave me a career path, it changed everything about who I am.”

At the end of the presentation, associate professor and Chair of the Communication Department Andrew Herman and President Denise Battles presented Garber with her Geneseo diploma, as she was unable to attend her graduation last spring.u

 Sophia Garber ‘17 returned to Geneseo on Wednesday Dec. 6 to deliver an All-College address. Garber highlighted her experience cycling across the United States to fundraise for the Ulman Cancer Fund. (Ellayna Fredericks/Assoc. Photo Editor)

Sophia Garber ‘17 returned to Geneseo on Wednesday Dec. 6 to deliver an All-College address. Garber highlighted her experience cycling across the United States to fundraise for the Ulman Cancer Fund. (Ellayna Fredericks/Assoc. Photo Editor)