Buffalo: A Place I Now Call Home 

Written by: Alexia Hecico, MS in Business Analytics ’24

I remember my first day at UB. I was 19 and had just traveled for over 30 hours. You would expect me to say I was tired, overwhelmed and scared, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I was so excited for the new life that was ahead of me — the opportunities, the adventures and the new friends. Everything that I ever dreamed of suddenly seemed possible and I couldn’t wait to begin this new chapter of my life. 

When I first stepped foot in Buffalo, I was a young girl who had never been to the US. A girl who grew up in Romania and for the longest time didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life. And in all honesty, if it wasn’t for the fact that I met the right people at the right time, I probably would still feel lost.  

But I got lucky. Right before my senior year of high school, I got the chance to represent Romania at the World Mountain Running Championships where I placed 4th individually and won the team title with the rest of the girls on the national team. That championship represented not only the start of my “professional” running career, but it was also the moment my life changed forever.  

Thanks to Paul Kirsch, one of the coaches of the US team, I learned about the opportunity to study in America while also pursuing a running career. I immediately began taking the first steps toward making that a reality.  

Although I received offers from different universities across the US, I wanted to take the time to find the place that felt right for me. After months of recruiting calls with various coaches and looking at multiple university websites, I found the University at Buffalo. I found the place that has become a home away from home.  I found a university that I believed in so much that I decided to not only spend four years of undergraduate studies here but I am also pursuing a Master’s of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA). 

Lessons Learned 

Looking back now, I feel like I didn’t take enough time to appreciate all of the opportunities that I’ve been given. I didn’t understand the full impact UB would have on my education and, more importantly, on who I am as a person. I came here dreaming about getting my degree in four years, learning as much as I could, making an impact on the track team and nothing else. I didn’t think about what would happen to me as an individual – my interests and my goals outside of school and track. As the old saying goes, I missed the forest for the trees.  

Sometimes I wish I could go back and grab my younger self by the shoulders and tell her to have fun, make more mistakes, talk to more people, laugh, cry and love more. Because now, a little over four years later, what I cherish the most are not the papers I’ve written, the exams I’ve aced or the framed diploma. Instead, it’s the laughs shared with my classmates while we stressed over a project, the post-exam cheers, the jokes about dropping out and the hours spent talking to professors who became mentors.  

There’s so much more to college than grades, honors and what’s on your resume. I’m not saying those things don’t matter, but remember to enjoy your time here while it lasts. Over the last couple of years, Buffalo turned into a place I call home and the people I’ve met here – my teammates, classmates, professors, and the Starbucks baristas – have become my family.  

What will always be special about Buffalo is the community, one that you’ll never find anywhere else. I’ve met some of my best friends here and some of my undergraduate professors are still people that I reach out to whenever I need help or just want someone to talk to. I’ve traveled thousands of miles and left my childhood friends and family and everything that meant comfort to me on a different continent, but I don’t regret it. People here have told me to, “Keep Buffalo a secret,” and to this day, it remains my favorite one.

Alexia Hecico, MS in Business Analytics '24, posing and smiling

Bio: Alexia was born and raised in Romania, where she spent her early childhood in Bucharest and later moving to Baia Mare. She grew up practicing different sports with the most impactful ones being swimming and running. Under her parents’ coaching, running became her specialty during high school. Alexia represented the Romanian Mountain Running National Team at various international competitions including the European and World Championships where she placed in the top 6 individually and medaled with the National Team.  

After high school, Alexia accepted an athletic scholarship from the University at Buffalo and made the move across the ocean a few months after her father’s death. During her undergraduate program, Alexia was a member of the track and field and cross-country teams while pursuing a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing. She also worked as a Teaching Assistant during her junior and senior years. She is now pursuing a MSBA while working as a marketing intern for UB Athletics and being an academic performance specialist within the Athletics Department.  

In her free time, Alexia enjoys traveling and watching sports—her favorites are tennis, basketball, Formula 1, track, swimming, and almost all winter sports. She also enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with family and friends.

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