Alumni Feature: Jenna Prahst and Gunnar Kadlic ('21)
Jenna and Gunnar ('21) are recent grads of the team and post-grad moved to the Cleveland area. Both are impressively accomplished in their own right; notably, Jenna served as the Women's Captain and Gunnar served as the Equipment Manager while on the team. Now, Gunnar is currently working at the NASA Glenn Research Center and Jenna is currently working at KeyBank as a Consumer and Business Banking Analyst.
How long have you both been rowing for and what crews have you been a part of?
Jenna Prahst: “I have been rowing since I was 15 years old, so almost 9 years now. I was introduced to the sport when I joined my high school crew team at Saint Joseph Academy in Cleveland. During my time at SJA I was never a top rower, I was one of the smallest girls on the team but I continued to work as hard as I could every season, and as a result I got hooked on the sport. I continued rowing during all four years of college with MURC and after graduating I have been grateful to have the opportunity to continue rowing with a women’s masters team back in Cleveland with the Western Reserve Rowing Association. I am the youngest member of the team by a bit, but it’s been a blast to get the opportunity to continue competing at a high level and even win a few medals in my first season with this team.”
Gunnar Kadlic: “I came to the team not having any experience with rowing in high school. I participated in other sports, such as track and football, but rowing was a completely new opportunity for me. I ended up spending all four years of my undergraduate studies with the team.”
How would you describe your experience while a part of the Miami University Rowing Club, both as a rower, and as previous Women’s Captain and Equipment Manager?
Jenna: “My experience at MURC basically encompassed my entire college experience, it is where I made my best friends and created my fondest memories that will stick with me for a lifetime. I would describe it like being a part of a big weird family where you always feel like you can be your true self. As a rower I continued to find love for pushing myself to the limits and learning how hard work can pay off over time.
My experiences as women’s captain left a huge lasting impact on me. Through the good times and the really tough times, it taught me so much about leadership, collaboration, and above all else how to let my voice be heard. As someone who has always been described as shy, quiet, and introverted, being captain forced me to step out of my comfort zone and be a leader. I vividly remember when I first got elected as women’s captain, I was just a sophomore and I was so filled with self doubt about my ability to live up to the position. Looking back now, I am so proud of how far I came and how much I was able to contribute to the team with the time I spent there.”
Gunnar: “My experience with MURC was great! It allowed me to make a lot of amazing friends and connections as an incoming freshman which helped with easing into college life. Getting to head out to Acton Lake 4-5 days a week was always a great break from school. The team allowed me to travel to some awesome places like Boston, Chattanooga, Pittsburg, Oak Ridge, and many others. After experiencing the team for a few semesters as a general member, I decided that I wanted to step up into a leadership role. This led to my role as Equipment Manager which allowed me to really give back to the team. During the pandemic, the team was practicing less and not traveling which allowed me to get some much-needed improvements done to the boathouse and acquire some new equipment. Overall, whether it was in the role of rower or equipment manager, my experience on the team was one of the highlights of my college experience.”
Describe your typical days; Jenna do you find it hard to make time to row while working full time? Gunnar would you be interested to continue your rowing journey in the future?
Jenna: “To be completely honest, a day in the life of Jenna is not very thrilling. I currently work remotely and so sometimes I don’t even leave my house! I work as a business analyst in a rotational program for KeyBank in Cleveland. Typically I wake up at 6:30am, start work at 7:30am, attend to my dog’s needs throughout the day (if she isn’t at Doggie Daycare), and log off by 4:30pm. Currently it is the off season for rowing so I try to get to my fitness center by 5pm and then get home to make dinner, then repeat the next day. Weekends are usually spent taking long dog walks in the Cleveland Metroparks or in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and checking out a cool new Cleveland restaurant or brewery.
During the rowing season, my team practices Monday and Wednesday evenings, and early Saturday mornings. I do not find it difficult at all to make time for rowing while working full time. Since nearly everyone on the team has full time jobs, the times are set to allow us all ample time to get to practice after work.”
Gunnar: “A typical day for me looks like waking up around 5:30-6, eating some breakfast and watching a few Tik-Toks before work. Then I get to work around 7-7:30, do some engineering things then go home. Most days of the week I then workout then make some dinner. Jenna and I usually end up watching new shows or movies on Netflix. I think in the future I would definitely consider joining a masters rowing program, however, I am looking to continue my education and start my Master’s program in Mechanical Engineering this fall so it depends on how much free time I’ll have.”
What are your professional and rowing aspirations for the future?
Jenna: “In terms of my professional aspirations, I want to continue to develop my data analytics skills. I have recently been considering taking part time classes to get my Master’s degree in Data Science. Stay tuned to see what happens.
In terms of rowing, I am happy where I am now. I don’t really have big ambitions to take my rowing career anywhere else, I am just happy to have rowing in my life and to have the opportunity to continue to compete. I of course have always dreamt of rowing at the Head of the Charles, and I still believe I can make it one day!”
Gunnar: “Some aspirations within my professional life are to obtain my Masters in Mechanical Engineering in the near future. I have recently begun working as a Mechanical Engineer at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and so a large part of my professional aspirations involve growing within that organization and experiencing as much as I can with them. Eventually, I would like to go further and obtain my PhD and become a professor. As far as rowing aspirations go, I think I would like to get involved with a team in the future, should time allow for it.
What are some of your favorite rowing experiences?
Jenna: “I think one of my favorite rowing experiences was being in the top women’s four my sophomore and junior year at Miami, working alongside some of the most amazing women. As I mentioned, when I was in high school I was never in top boats and always felt like I could never reach them and just blamed it on the fact that I was basically the size of a coxswain. I think being the Women’s Captain really motivated me to be a role model in terms of my physical abilities and so I pushed myself really hard to get there and it was really rewarding.
On another note, I always loved the van rides, all the weird MURC traditions, and just spending time with the team. From having team bonding nights, spending my 21st birthday at a regatta, to competing against teammates eating a LOT of ice cream in Tennessee with the Vermonster Challenge, there are just too many favorite memories to choose from.”
Gunnar: “Some of my favorite rowing experiences involve traveling to Boston for the Head of the Charles Regatta during my junior year. I also really enjoyed getting multiple medals with my freshman year boat, considering it was all of our first time rowing. Unfortunately during the final weeks of my senior year on the team, I was rowing in BK one final time during a practice and we ended up capsizing. Luckily nobody was injured, but swimming around in the cold water with all my friends one last time will always be a cherished memory I have from MURC.
Are there any groups or individuals that really influenced you both as a rower and an individual?
Jenna: “Of course there were a lot of people that made a big impression on me during my time at MURC. Firstly, Maddie Spurlock ‘18 who was the Women’s Captain when I first joined really made an impact (even though she probably doesn’t know it) and seeing her success and the way she was so well respected on the team shaped me to want to have a similar impact. John Misey, my first co-captain, helped me learn so much about the technical aspects of rowing. I will always be so grateful for how much he taught me even if he gave me a hard time once and a while.
I of course want to mention Hannah Forgo ‘20 and Julia Grogan ‘20, these women were two of my closest friends and housemates while on the team and were always there to help me when I was going through a hard time as Women’s Captain. They helped me make the tough choices and learn how to be a great leader and also pushed me to be an even greater athlete.
Lastly, I want to mention my best friends that I met on the team, you all know who you are. You guys were the reason why I was able to get through my bad days and you always kept a smile on my face and made me laugh until my stomach hurt. Thank you to MURC for letting me find my forever friends.”
Gunnar: “I think that MURC as a whole has definitely influenced me as a rower and as an individual for the better. From my time as a leader on the team, to meeting some of my closest friends, I really appreciate all the opportunities the team has given me.
Have you guys ever stolen anything from the Boathouse? ( We won’t tell )
Jenna: “Actually yes, I stole a mix CD I found in an old CD player back on the workbench. It's currently in my car and I play it whenever I don’t have a cell signal. It’s an interesting mix of pop rock and country.”
Gunnar: ““We call that commission…” – Ivan Wehner ‘22”
Anything else that you’d like to share with Miami Rowing Alumni and Family?
Jenna: “Thank you to all the MURC alumni for keeping this team running all these years, you have helped create something so special and I am so grateful to have been a part of that experience. Much love!”
Gunnar: “I hope that everyone who has the ability to join MURC gets as much out of it as I did because it truly is a great organization to get involved with at Miami.”