#TGW: Born to Run

This is the latest in a summer-long #TGW series featuring student-athletes participating in the 2018 Fifth Street Bridge Program, Georgia Tech athletics’ summer internship program. 

Nahom Solomon is far away, yet right at home in Hillsboro, Ore., a picturesque spot for one of Georgia Tech’s greatest runners to continue to put in work.

Three weeks into a 10-week internship with Intel, the recent computer engineering graduate works and he runs so as to compete once more for the Yellow Jackets, thus merging the great passions in his young life.

You read that right. Solomon will run again for Tech.

First, he is weaving an interesting tale on the west side of Portland, where he’s not unusual as a Georgia Tech student-athlete on a summer internship. There are some 90 of those on active status.

He’s unique, though, in that this is his third turn with Intel, the massive technology company renowned for its semiconductor chips and microprocessors.

“What I do as an intern is in the first couple weeks lot of ramp-up and training to get familiar with my team,” he said. “I’m working on the cores here, your microprocessors, each of those processors is powered by different cores.”

Somebody somewhere, like Solomon, knows what all that means. Tech helped make him that way, and he’ll be back for more in the fall — as a graduate student.

It’s a stretch, really, to refer to his current stint as an internship.

He’s almost an Intel employee, working on salary with a living stipend.

Don’t be surprised if he ends up with that company down the road.

Solomon said, the chances are, “pretty good, normally, if you get what they call a satisfactory evaluation as long as they’re not in a hiring freeze. My situation is a little different. With the GEM Fellowship, chances are even greater.”

The National GEM Consortium, founded in 1976 at Notre Dame, funds scholarships for graduate degrees in minorities in engineering and sciences.

Solomon, whose parents are refugees from Eritrea, decided as a senior that he would return to Tech for another year, and chased the GEM Fellowship.

He got it. No wonder.

Solomon was named Georgia Tech’s male athlete of the year after earning All-America honors in cross country last fall, when he finished 22nd in the NCAA championship with a career-best time of 29:44.36, and then he set four school records in the indoor and outdoor track seasons.

Not to mention, he graduated last month with a grade point average above 3.8, was named the ACC cross country scholar-athlete of the year, and last week was named to the Google Cloud Academic All-America third team in cross country/track and field.

The fellowship will — in conjunction with Intel and Georgia Tech — pay for tuition and fees for Solomon’s year of graduate study, plus a $4,000 living stipend for each semester.

Combine that fellowship with the real world — “I didn’t like what they job market was telling me,” he said — and Solomon will be back in class on Aug. 20 in pursuit of a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering. Since he did not compete as a freshman during the 2015 indoor track and field season, he’ll run again for the Jackets.

It’s good news for Georgia Tech that one of the most decorated cross country and track and field athletes in school history has eligibility remaining.

Since coming from Shiloh High School in Snellville, Ga. in 2014, Solomon’s set school records in the indoor 5,000-meter run, indoor 3,000-meter run, outdoors 5,000-meter run and outdoors 10,000-meter run. He led all Tech athletes in every cross country event his final two seasons.

Solomon was born to run, but he knows when to slow down and talk.

He set his table as a sophomore when he bumped into Intel recruiter Tamara Wesley, for whom he worked as an intern for two summers in Fort Collins Colo. It was a simple meeting on campus, not a job fair.

“I keep a resume in my book case,” he said. “She became my manager . . . I like small groups, face-to-face meetings. They already know you’re pretty smart; you go to Georgia Tech. They want to see if your individual characteristics amplify your ability.”

The first summer was definitely the hardest.

“You’re still learning the vernacular, the work flow, constantly adjusting to different things. The second summer, you have more responsibilities. It was six weeks in the first internship to learn everything, two weeks in the second. This year, it’s a little more difficult because I’ve switched sites, and the environment is different.”

After finishing 19th in the 10k in the NCAA championships (29:46.96) on June 6, Solomon shut it down. He’s running again, though, and plans to run for Tech in the indoor season early next year.

He might run past that.

“I took 10 days off,” he said. “I’ll still be hopefully in the best shape of my life, and I’d like to run unattached [after the indoor season]. I don’t have to be in a Georgia Tech singlet, but I’d like to win a spot in a U.S.A. [outdoor] championship . . . I’m always either at work or running.”

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