October 1 is not only the first day of the month but is now also a day proclaimed by the city of Charlotte to celebrate Paralympian and Queens student Hannah Aspden.
Aspden accepted the “Hannah Aspden Day” award on the lawn of Levin at Queens University with the swim team, rugby team, and faculty by her side supporting her.
Hannah Aspden, a senior collegiate swimmer at Queens isn’t like other students her age.
Aspden was born with a congenital hip disarticulation and has no left leg. That hasn’t stopped Aspden from achieving her goals in and out of the water.
Aspden competed this year at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics and stunned the world as she made her second paralympic debut.
She competed in the 100-meter backstroke and the 4 by 100-meter medley relay, leaving Tokyo with two gold medals. What’s next for Aspden you may ask?
Aspden shared that after college she will continue training to go to the 2024 Olympic games in Paris while also pursuing a career with her Multimedia Storytelling major.
“I know this is incredibly uncomfortable for you but you have impacted our lives forever and carried our community,”said Queens University President Daniel Lugo, who spoke at the ceremony on October 1.
During the pandemic, she stayed home and trained at the pools in her hometown of Raleigh, instead of coming back to Charlotte. A year later she has won two gold medals and her hard work paid off.
Aspden now walks around the halls of Queens with posters and banners recognizing her achievements.
“Being back at Queens is great with all of the support and encouragement,” Aspden said. “It’s weird to see me everywhere.” Aspden is described as a shy, humbled, and hardworking woman. “She is probably one of the nicest humans you will ever meet,” said teammate Alex Kunert.
Jeff Dugdale, Queens head swimming coach, spoke at the ceremony with joy.
“We are a school that welcomes Paralympians and we are a family, we want to celebrate Hannah today,” Dugdale said.
He went on to talk about the mindset of a gold medalist and shared the obstacles Aspden has faced to get to where she is at today.
What’s next for Aspden? Aspden is looking forward to graduating and continuing training for the next Olympic games.
As the ceremony proceeded the Queens swim team left chanting their pre-race ritual cheer and ended with “We love you Hannah” proving they are more than a team but a family.