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Cassandra Sayler finds rewards on and off the track

"Be all that you can be. Find your future — as a teacher," wrote Madeline Fuchs Holzer, a widely respected educational development director. A motivating thought for many, but for Minot State University student Cassandra Sayler, it inspired reality.

"My high school track coach and my parents always thought I would be really good at teaching, and I enjoy working with kids," said Sayler. "It is a rewarding career."

Becoming an educator was not entirely what Sayler planned when she came to MSU. The West Fargo native originally gravitated toward nursing, but over time, switched to elementary education. In her senior year, she chose to concentrate on third grade elementary education.

"I picked elementary because students still love to learn, and they are a fun age group to teach and be around," Sayler said.

Not only is Sayler a stellar student, she's also a track star. After high school, she traveled to Minot to participate on the MSU Cross Country and Track and Field teams. The avid distance runner began in middle school and thoroughly enjoys the camaraderie.

"It's a great break from school, I enjoy competing and the time running with my teammates," she said.

Running proved a push in the right direction for Sayler. Early in her MSU running career, Sayler participated in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics marathon. Her typical competitive runs are three miles cross country on a golf course, so 26.2 miles was a personal stretch and something she'd never done before. But her perseverance paid off: she was the only female from MSU who competed at the 2009 national qualifier in St. Louis, and she finished the race in three hours 20 minutes. She continues to hold the MSU record in the marathon.

"It was fun, my teammates were there cheering me on, and it was a good experience," Sayler said. "It was tough, but I'm glad I can say I ran a marathon."

As for future marathons, Sayler plans to apply her enthusiasm and determination in a third grade classroom and spend her free time coaching distance runners.