Name: Kiyan Tavangar
Sports: Men's Cross Country / Track & Field
Hometown: New York, New York
Majors: Astrophysics and Mathematics
Why did you choose UChicago?
UChicago offered the perfect blend of research opportunities for an aspiring scientist as well as strong departments across the board. I was still very interested in taking classes in a wide variety of fields and didn't want to choose any schools that seemed too specialized early.
Favorite moment of your UChicago athletic career?
Indoor of my first year, both Ryan Cutter and I set personal bests in the mile at Grand Valley in Michigan on a 300-meter track. It's still the best race I've ever run.
Favorite team tradition/activity?
We do an awards night at the end of cross country season to poke fun at the crazy things people have done over the last five months. The seniors always come up with great awards and clever puns for everyone. We also get pizza for the entire team and it becomes a nice break from studying.
What made you fall in love with your sport originally?
I actually originally planned to use sophomore outdoor track in order to get fit for soccer season in high school and ended up really enjoying the time I had running along the Hudson River with my teammates. I ended up doing cross country instead of soccer and have stuck with it since.
What lessons have you learned through competing in your sport that have stuck with you?
I've had the misfortune of being injured or partially injured for 90 percent of my time competing in college, so one of the things that I've really had to learn was to manage myself physically which I think translated into other aspects of my life. I was able to better understand my own limitations and therefore come up with plans to overcome significant obstacles.
What advice would you give to your first-year teammates?
Enjoy as much as you can while it's happening. This year, we've had to eliminate nearly every team tradition for health reasons and to me, that's been even more difficult than not being able to compete. The time the team spends together is invaluable and one day it just won't be there anymore, so take advantage of it while you can.
Favorite UChicago class that you learned the most from and why?
I took the Field Course in Astrophysics in winter and spring last year which was essentially just a very guided research course. I was able to learn a lot about how people worked in the field and also perform cutting-edge research with the most advanced instruments in the world. Unfortunately, our trip to one of the telescopes in Chile was cancelled for COVID reasons, but it was still a fantastic class.
Which UChicago faculty or staff member made the greatest impact on you and why?
There are so many but if I had to narrow it down to two, I would say Dr. Drlica-Wagner, with whom I've done research for three years, and Prof. Gladders who taught the field course class. Of course, Coach Hall has also had a tremendous impact on the non-academic side of my life given that I've seen him almost every day for four years!
Favorite place on campus?
The Hallowed Grounds pool tables (center, far from window, close to window in descending order of preference).
Favorite thing to do in the city?
Probably eat food in Chinatown or go to a White Sox game with friends.
What are your post-graduation plans?
I'm applying to grad school now so hopefully I'll be going somewhere to continue school for five years.
Outside of your current sport, which sport or activity do you feel like you would excel at the most?
It would almost certainly be soccer, but I also feel that with enough practice, I could also do well at pool or snooker.
Favorite Chicago restaurant?
Goree Cuisine on 47th Street or The Nile. Very good memories from both.