Free time is a bit foreign to Elena Lancioni at the moment. She’s a graduate student studying Public Health at Indiana University, an associate instructor for two courses, a graduate assistant for Healthy IU, a personal trainer at Urban Fitness Studio, and a contributor to Strong Runner Chicks – a blog and female running community.
Health and wellness has always been Lancioni’s passion. In her hometown of La Porte she recently made waves as an inductee to La Porte High School’s Norm Hubner Athletic Hall of Fame. She credits her grandparents with helping spark her initial interest in the field.
“My mom’s parents were large influences in my life to develop an appreciation for the outdoors,” she said. “From when I was an infant up until age 16 we’d visit them in New Mexico and go on many adventures. Those adventures fueled my spirit for the outdoors and showed me that I can overcome many challenges in life.”
When she graduated, Lancioni took a track and cross country scholarship to Bowling Green State University. She hoped to translate that passion into good for the community.
“I studied exercise science and journalism, and also got involved in many organizations,” Lancioni said. “Some of them were the Student Athletic Advisory Council and We Are One Team, which promotes social justice and diversity through sport.”
Those activities served as an introduction to public health, which she decided to explore as a graduate student.
“I wanted to pursue a career that allowed me to work with the community,” she said. “Working to provide access to resources and knowledge with others is something that’s fulfilling to me.”
Her experiences as a graduate student have helped her learn a lot about herself, and how to connect with other people.
“Throughout my life, a constant theme has been working together with others,” she said. “I’ve learned to empower myself and other women by stepping out of my comfort zone. I was fortunate to make two trips over the last few years where I knew no one, and made 30 friends each time. One was to Peru, another was a backpacking trip along the Alps. Those trips showed me that I’m capable of exploring the world and bringing new people into my life.”
Lancioni’s connections over the years have helped her see all kinds of perspectives around issues in her communities.
“Our communities are places that we live, grow and come to thrive in,” Lancioni said. “No matter what we do in life, there’s a way we can give back because someone else in that community is looking up to you. That may be as simple as sharing a smile with someone on the sidewalk, volunteering, or educating others in some capacity.”
Thanks to her induction to the LPHS Athletic Hall of Fame, a part of Lancioni’s story is permanently engrained into the community.
“My favorite part about La Porte County is the sense of community among people as well as all of the beauty that Lake Michigan offers,” she said. “I’m so grateful that we moved here when I was young, because I’d never have been able to experience the Dunes, summers by the lake, or all the trails so close to us. I always tell anyone who’s never been that it’s one of my favorite places, a hidden beauty.”