Erin Holaday


College: Social Work

UK Social Work Student Takes One More Lap

Published: Aug 22, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 22, 2011) — University of Kentucky social work senior and distance runner Josh Nadzam is no stranger to adversity.


Raised by a single mother battling a chronic mental illness, Nadzam credits athletics and great coaches with keeping him out of trouble as a child.


Senior year in high school, Nadzam lost his best friend in a car accident, coming back from Spring Break at the beach. The small community of Monaca, Pa. was devastated and so was the town's premier athlete.


After graduation, Nadzam was looking for a way out of a self-described dysfunctional single-parent home in the projects outside of Pittsburgh.


While sports had always provided strong and steady support for the basketball and football player, at the end of Nadzam's high school tenure, he found his true path sophomore year on the track. And that path has changed his life.


photo of Josh Nadzam running
Running is a year-round sport for athletes like UK social work senior Josh Nadzam. "You really just have to believe in yourself and have confidence," Nadzam said. "Don't give in. Always keep your eyes focused and stay committed. One more lap. One more mile."


"In high school, when we'd run the mile, I never really got tired," he explained. "Some of my friends told the new track coach about it, and that kind of got me into the sport."


When Nadzam began looking at colleges, he was good, but not that good.


"I didn't get a lot of recruiting from big schools because my times weren't that great," he said. "I'd had limited training but still did pretty well in my local area, so I wanted to try a larger school far away."


Nadzam contacted coaches at Division I schools, including UK, by email. "UK gave me a chance when no one else would," said Nadzam, who walked on for the Wildcats as a 4:21 miler.


"My first impression was, he was eager and excited about the possibilities," UK cross country coach Don Weber told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "He just seemed really excited to be here and really eager for things to work out. And by working out, meaning that we'd give him a chance to be a track athlete here."


"He [Coach Weber] has had national champions, SEC champions, Olympians," Nadzam said, "so for him to give an opportunity as just a no-name walk-on — that meant the world to me."


Nadzam went on to earn a partial scholarship, become a Southeastern Conference point-scorer and an SEC Academic Honor Roll member, all while lowering his time in the mile to 4:05.


 "My coaches have really helped me to succeed," Nadzam said humbly. "I am surrounded by great mentors and advisers."


Nadzam also found a nonathletic passion in UK's College of Social Work. A regular volunteer for God's Pantry, Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity, Hope Center, Catholic Action Center and a vacation Bible school, Nadzam is a two-time CATSPY recipient as UK’s male Service Award honoree.


Nadzam was appointed to the SEC Community Service team for the second year in a row after conducting a shoe drive at UK last spring in conjunction with Soles for Souls, a nonprofit organization that helps distribute all types of shoes to underprivileged countries around the world. Nadzam and teammate Luis Orta were able to collect 2,000 pairs of shoes over the course of a month.


Social work and track have a lot in common for Nadzam. "Running is not a pretty sport, and social work isn't a pretty profession," he said. "They are both passions that require dedication and a realization of the intrinsic value of what you're doing."


Last year, Nadzam received the Wilma Rudolph Student Athlete Achievement Award, an honor presented annually to student-athletes who have overcome adversity and tragedy.


"The Wilma Rudolph award was really a moment of triumph and clarity," said Nadzam. "I can tell my story now. I still have problems, but now I am beyond happy."


And so the quiet and hard-working competitor continues in the trenches this fall, keeping up his rigorous pace — a pace most of us would find impossible to maintain — finishing his homework on buses and in airports and still finding time to keep in touch with family back home.


Running is a year-round sport, starting with cross country and continuing with indoor and then outdoor track —all in the midst of social work practicums, tests and nonprofit work.


"You really just have to believe in yourself and have confidence," Nadzam said. "Don't give in. Always keep your eyes focused and stay committed. One more lap. One more mile."


Nadzam knows that poverty can wear you down. He understands struggle and continues to talk to his mother every couple of days.


"Every time I get an award, it's a reflection on her and my grandmother," Nadzam said. "They define selfless love. My mom raised me as a single mom with a disease and did everything she could."


With one season of cross country eligibility remaining, Nadzam plans to begin work next fall on a master’s degree in social work.



Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Dallas Buyers Club
College of Law Welcomes Trevor Potter
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Notes on Marie Menken
LNFS Presents: Edge of Tomorrow
UK Jazz Ensemble/ UK Lab Band
Earth & Environmental Science Student Open House
"Nerd Night" Exhibit and Concert
"Anne Braden: Southern Patriot" Film Screening and Discussion
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: My Neighbor Totoro
LNFS Presents: (500) Days of Summer
Men's Soccer vs. Old Dominion
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Alabama
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. South Carolina
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
Swing Dancing!
Dancing at Lughnasa
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
UK Children's Hospital/Birthing Center Annual Perinatal Loss "Walk To Remember"
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Texas A&M
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Resumes and Cover Letters
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Networking and Job Search
UK Choristers
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Stillness in Motion: The Essence of Symmetry - presented by Dr. Carl Lee, Mathematics
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Night of the Living Dead
UK Law Day
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Mark Berry, Guest Percussion Recital
National Depression Screening Day
LNFS Presents: Torch Song Trilogy
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Shut Up and Play the Hits
LNFS Presents: Watchmen
KLJ Data Privacy Symposium
Family Weekend Check-in
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #1
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. South Carolina
Family Weekend: Derek Hughes
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. ULM
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK International Tent/ Tailgate Party
CT Surgery Symposium: Advances in the Surgical Management of Cardiothoracic Diseases:
Family Weekend Tent Party
Dancing at Lughnasa
DNT 101: A Taste of the Kentucky Doughnut Trail
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #2
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Auburn
Sunday Lunch at Historic Spindletop Hall
Men's Soccer vs. Marshall
Job Club - Social Media and Your Career
Massage on the Go
LNFS Presents: The Last Samurai
UK Symphony Band Concert
Women's Forum Conference 2014
#TrendingTopics: Pornography vs. Morality
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: The Tree of Life
LNFS Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy
UK Wind Symphony
LNFS Presents: Princess Mononoke
LNFS Presents: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Ole Miss
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
Paint the Town Blue
Free Kaplan Entrance Practice Exams
4th Annual Big Blue Soccer Tournament
Men's Soccer vs. New Mexico
Swing Dancing and Costumes?
Paint the Town Blue
UK Men's Chorus and acoUstiKats
Jazz Spectacular
UK Student Pajama Party
Kentucky Volleyball vs. LSU
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Florida
Paint the Town Blue
Midterm of 2014 Fall Semester
Returning to Work and Breastfeeding
Open Access Week Kickoff Event (Webcast)
Grad School 101
Royalty Showcase
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Preparing for Law School
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Grad School Panel: Surviving Your 1st Year
Film & Panel Discussion: Be Like Others
Graduate and Professional School Showcase
Your Publication, Your Choice: Choosing the Right Open Access Journal
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Kitty Karnival
Study Tips for Medical School
LNFS Presents: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Thank-A-Donor Day
Campus Sustainability Day
Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Information Session
Getting Into Medical School
Writing a Winning Personal Statement
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Marimbas From Hell
LNFS Presents: The Fault in Our Stars
Generation Open: Researchers' Roles in the Age of Openness
Homecoming Street Fair
LNFS Presents: Kiki's Delivery Service
LNFS Presents: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
"see blue." Day at Keeneland
Peanut Butter Drive
Pumpkin Carving Tournament
Kentucky Football vs. Mississippi State
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK Women's Choir and Paws and Listen
Bill Cooper Faculty Recital
What Makes You "YOU: with Brett T. Spear
UK Trumpet Ensemble
Undergraduate Research Information Session "How to Find A Mentor"
Kentucky Men's Basketball Blue/White Scrimmage
Job Club - How To Get A Job at UK: Updates on IES Applicant Tracking System
Common Reading Experience Author Lecture: Presenting Ishmael Beah
Screening of the documentary Teached
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: The Shining
Pinterest Party
UK Lab Safety Fair
Leadership Assessment
"see boo." Halloween Party
Society for the Promotion of Undergraduate Research (SPUR) Meeting
#UKEDTALKS: Design Thinking with Dr. John Nash
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Tennessee
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Lucy
Film Viewing and Discussion of The Other Boleyn Girl
LNFS Presents: Papirosen
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Alabama
LNFS Presents: ParaNorman
LNFS Presents: Carrie
All Hallow's Eve Concert (UK Symphony Orchestra)
Work-Life Retirement Conference

Repeats every week until Sat Nov 29 2014 except Sat Sep 20 2014, Sat Oct 18 2014.
Sat, 10/25/2014

Reset Page