Keller Bean at a cross country meet. Bean has been selected as this year's NJAIAW Rowan's Woman of the Year. - Photo / Rowan Athletics

Keller Bean, a junior cross country and track runner, has been selected as Rowan University’s Woman of the Year by the New Jersey Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (NJAIAW). This award, which they announced the winners for on Feb. 3, coincides with the celebration of the 2021 National Girls and Women’s Sports Day. 

Each year the award is given to an outstanding athlete from each college and university in the state and the honorees are selected based on academic success, community service and athletic service. 

Bean is deeply involved on campus in addition to running cross country and track. She is a member of the Kappa Delta Pi Honors Society, Rowan Outstanding Women in Leadership, she coordinates the social media for the women’s cross country and track & field teams, is a member of the Rowan Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as a board member and is a board member for We Are One Team (WA1T) where she serves as the student-athlete connection. 

In addition to her commitment outside of the classroom, she excels academically. Bean was recognized on both the President’s and Dean’s Lists and as a Rowan Scholar-Athlete of Distinction, and she received New Jersey Athletic Conference All-Academic Honors. 

Bean was extremely surprised to hear she had been given this award. 

“I was in the middle of class, and I had a little email pop up, so then I read it and I was pretty excited,” Bean said. “And we went on a break for my class like two minutes later so I called my mom and I told her about it.”

Bean has always had a passion for getting involved and bettering her community. This year, she heard about the club We are One Team (WA1T) and was excited to join. 

“I remember seeing something for a WA1T meeting in the fall, and it was talking about social justice and activism and advocacy and sport, I was like ‘oh my goodness,’ everything I am interested in,” Bean said. “So I was really excited to get involved.” 

It is extremely important to Bean to get other athletes involved and aware of social justice issues happening in the country. One way she does this is by using her strong social media presence on the track & field and cross country platforms. 

“The social media for the team was a nice platform because I know it’s a different group of people,” Bean said. “And it was also important to me to know that our team was showing solidarity and respect for all of the athletes and not just trying to stay silent in this apolitical stance because these issues affect our teammates, so I think it’s important for the team to address it.” 

The Cherry Hill native also described her plan for the future, and how she will continue to promote activism in her career. She is majoring in inclusive education: elementary with a minor in human resource management, and would like to become a teacher after she graduates. 

“I think it’s the same with education; there’s no way to separate these issues from education because they do affect your students,” Bean said. “And you have to support your students.” 

Although Bean plans on becoming a teacher, she had a change of heart for her own future education after seeing all the ways she can still get involved with athletics at Rowan. 

“My plan was always to go right into teaching after finishing my undergrad,” Bean said. “But it was actually the day after the award, and I was just thinking about how much I liked my opportunities of getting involved with things at Rowan, especially with athletics, so I’m thinking maybe I’ll try and stay and study for my masters, which would be in more of a diversity and inclusion type field. So that’s a very new thought and it’s exciting, I hope I get to pursue that.” 

As a result of the different clubs and organizations that Keller is involved in, she gets the opportunity to meet many different people and learn new things from each and every one of them. She encourages others to be active in their communities and really believes in the power of learning something new. 

“As long as you’re open to listen and learn from other people, I think you’ll get so much out of everything you do,” Bean said.

Bean was honored to be selected as Rowan’s NJAIAW Woman of the Year, and will continue to be heavily involved in serving her community and fighting for social justice.

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