Dominic Dyer: Dart Scholar Update

Dominic Dyer, a 2017 William A. Dart Memorial University Scholarship recipient is in his third year at Colombia University where he is studying Economics. In addition to his coursework, Dominic is a member of the Columbia Lions track and field and cross-country teams, where he quickly made his mark, earning a top 50 place at the Ivy League Championships during his first year. Read on to learn more about Dom and his experience as a Dart Scholar and as an athlete at Columbia University.

What led you to apply for the William A. Dart Memorial University Scholarship?

I always viewed the William A. Dart Memorial Scholarship as the preeminent university scholarship in Cayman and I didn’t even think twice about submitting an application. While the monetary component was obviously a factor, I was also drawn by the fact that Dart is a fast-growing company that plays a large role in Cayman, gives back to the local community and looks to positively impact Cayman in all they do. Additionally, I got the impression that the organisation seemed to show a real interest in what the scholars were doing which has certainly proved to be more than true for me.

How has being a Dart Scholar been beneficial throughout your years at University?

Being a Dart Scholar has provided me with countless opportunities that I would not otherwise have access to. Although I am an intrinsically motivated person, being a Dart Scholar and knowing that I am representing the Dart family and organisation in all I do constantly drives me to do more and hold myself to a higher standard whether that be academically, athletically or even in life on a daily basis. Also, going away to university has made me realise how competitive it is to be offered positions as an intern and being a Dart Scholar has meant I have had the opportunity to have two extremely rewarding and invaluable summer internships at Dart. In addition to this, the scholarship program has provided mentorships with Dart employees and networking opportunities with employees as well as other scholars. 

Tell us about your first two years at Columbia and what’s on the horizon for this year?

The first two years at Columbia flew by. Being a student-athlete leaves you with very little free time and the weeks pass by so quickly for me. I can't believe I am already half way through my time at university.

The first two years were not exactly what I expected and the transition from the British high school system to an American liberal arts college was quite tough. I spent my last two years of high school focusing on four subjects for my A-Levels but at Columbia, which has an extensive core curriculum, I was required to study a much wider range of subjects. However, this has allowed me to spend the first two years focusing less on Financial Economics, which is my declared major, and has allowed me to take classes I never would have had an opportunity to take elsewhere such as salsa, soca and reggae, music humanities and Dutch. 

I am looking forward to these final two years where I will focus more on Economics and will have the opportunity to take more classes that will be relevant to the workplace for me. 

Tell us about your experience as a collegiate athlete.

Being a collegiate athlete has meant my college experience has been very different to that of friends who have gone abroad to study. It certainly isn't easy trying to balance running 95 miles a week and the academic rigors of an Ivy League school but I wouldn't want it any other way, as at the end of the day running is my passion.
My schedule changes depending if we are in cross country or track and field season but a typical week day for me right now would start off with training from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Training varies from day to day but a typical “easy day” consists of an 11 mile run in Central Park, followed by some form of strength and conditioning, and stretching. On harder days, we will drive to our athletic complex at the tip of Manhattan or Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx for an interval training session. Then, in the afternoon I have classes between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Occasionally I have to go for a second easy run once classes are over.
One thing that is great about Columbia is that we only have classes Monday through Thursday meaning that Fridays are completely free after training in the morning. Saturday is my “day off” where we run an easy 30-45 minute run whenever we want. On Sundays, the team has our longest run of the week where we take a 7 a.m. bus to Rockefeller State Park for our long run which is typically 17 to 18 miles.
Being a member of the track and field team has allowed me to make some very close friends as we eat together, train together, live together and even take a lot of the same classes. It has also given me the opportunity to travel across the United States for races and see parts of the country I hadn’t seen before as well as visit other college campuses which are invariably much larger than Columbia’s compact campus nestled in the heart of Manhattan.

Do you enjoy living in the New York City?

I love living in NYC! Although it is the antithesis to the small Caribbean island I call home, I always tell people what I like the most is the fact that it is so easy to get around and everything is right around the corner, just like Cayman. With such a busy schedule it is tough to take advantage of everything the city has to offer but over the next two years I definitely want to make more of an effort to explore the city and leave the 10 block radius often referred to as the "Columbia Bubble." One thing I do enjoy doing is making trips downtown on the weekends to try new ice cream parlors but so far I haven’t found anything that beats Gelato & Co. in Camana Bay.
Some teammates and I also occasionally volunteer at the local soup kitchen where we cook meals for homeless people living in Morningside Heights.  

Tell us about your experience as a Work-X student at Dart this past summer.

This summer I worked with Jackie Thomson in the Investments Analysis Group which I really enjoyed and can definitely see myself doing something similar in the future. With the Investments Analysis Group being a fairly small group, I was given the opportunity to individually meet with every member of the team and gain deeper insight into the specific work they do. Also, with Dart having such diverse interests I was able to perform financial analysis on a vast array of projects.

Do you have any advice for other students that are looking at studying STEM subjects?

If a student is looking at studying a STEM subject, and is truly passionate about it I would definitely recommend they go for it. Employers’ value graduates who are studying STEM subjects and due to their relevance in this day and age, they will stand you in good stead no matter what you choose to do with your degree.

Do you have any advice for other students looking to play sports at a collegiate level?

The first thing I would say to high school students looking to participate in collegiate sports is only do it if you really love it; it is a significant time commitment and balancing your academics with 20 plus hours a week of training and travelling to competitions on the weekend is not easy. Don’t do it just to please your coach or parents or anyone else.
If you are interested in participating in a sport at the collegiate level and living in Cayman, you need to be the one to reach out to coaches and begin doing this well before your final year of high school. Although people know me as that crazy tall guy running along the side of the road every day there are plenty of college students out there that are much faster than me and this was also the case in high school when I was looking to run at college. After reaching out to coaches and receiving no interest, I decided to apply to Columbia as a non-athlete and was then offered a spot on the Track and Field team as a “walk on” after being admitted to the school, so this is also a viable option for those looking to participate in a collegiate sport.  
My final piece of advice would be don’t sacrifice academics for athletics; even if a school is offering you a spot on their team or a scholarship, don’t go unless the school is the right academic fit for you.