Former American Swimmer Michelle Risinger Making a Difference in Iraq

Former American Swimmer Michelle Risinger Making a Difference in Iraq

WASHINGTON D.C. - American University student-athletes are special, and that is markedly apparent when you consider the story of Michelle Risinger.

Risinger, a 2007 AU graduate and former swimming student-athlete, is in her second tour of duty in Iraq. Currently, she works for the American Red Cross as an Assistant Station Manager. Her work includes emergency communications, visiting hospitals, and distributing Red Cross supplies and donations. As Michelle says, "Honestly, I just try to make people smile."

In April, while eating in a military dining hall she noticed flags and insignias displayed from various universities and colleges and realized the wall was in need of a flag from American University. Risinger, who was a back/fly expert as a member of the varsity swimming and diving team, contacted Associate Athletics Director Athena Argyropoulos to have her send a school flag. Risinger is proud to report that her addition, "is now the largest flag on display in the dining facility."

"It is no surprise that Michelle is doing wonderful work on behalf of our country, for the Red Cross and having a significant impact on everyone she meets," said Associate Director of Athletics David Bierwirth. "She displayed the same commitment and care for others while at American and there certainly was no doubt she would find a way to secure the largest flag for the hall."

Risinger was a double major in international relations and history, and graduated magnum cum laude with University Honors. She was a member of the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll all four years. Her greatest moments in the pool always seemed to come when the team needed her most. Three times Michelle posted her personal best while swimming at the Patriot League Championships.

She is no stranger to overcoming battles of her own and when asked why she chose to attend AU, Michelle recalled "because of an academic scholarship, a spot on a Division I swim team, its ideal location for someone interested in studying international affairs, and its proximity to Sibley Memorial Hospital." Her motivation for attending a campus near a hospital is further explained in an editorial she published in The Washington Post in June 2007. Click here to read Risinger's editorial from the Washington Post.