The second season of Conversations for Change features casual conversations with some of the University of Michigan’s brightest students, faculty, and leaders and best. In this episode, U-M Social intern Cam Turner, class of 2022, interviews Ziyah Holman.



Ziyah Holman, first-year U-M student, recently became internet famous when she brought the U-M Track and Field 4X400 relay back from a four-second deficit as the anchor of the relay to win. The clip of the race went viral, landing features on national news platforms and showing up in everyone’s social media feeds. 


“It feels great now to gain so many supporters globally and be recognized for [my] work,” she says, adding that it gives her motivation to keep going because she wants to continue inspiring others. 


Holman explains what was going through her head during the race. 


“I really just gave it all I had and left it all on the track, no matter how hard it hurt or how far we were behind. I really just kept pushing and tried to get the win for my team. But it was an amazing feeling. I honestly wasn’t that tired while running the race, I was so focused, but after, of course, it hit me. But it was worth it,” she says.



Her achievements, she says, are possible because she is surrounded by great people on the track and field team.


“I think it’s amazing to be surrounded by such great people who are not only committed to academic excellence, but also athletic excellence and trying to be their best selves. I think it’s really who you surround yourself with that makes you better. And if I didn’t have amazing teammates, I probably wouldn’t have done what I did out there. So I think it’s a true testament to being a true team player and having that great community around you.”


With her newfound stardom, Holman hopes to encourage other young female athletes to do what they love. 

“I want to inspire other young girls to be confident in their abilities and to keep pushing and never give up.”

Turner and Holman also discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and how it impacted Holman’s final year of high school and her start at U-M. She shares how she has tried to make the most of it—focusing on her schoolwork and the parts of races she wants to improve on. Her first semester at U-M was great, she says, and all of her professors have been supportive and helpful, but she is excited to get to experience some parts of campus life in Ann Arbor that aren’t available due to public health guidelines.


“I’m excited to go to a hockey game, go to baseball, stuff that I’ve never been able to experience and use my college experience to get those opportunities. There are so many great athletes here so I can’t wait to see how other sports do things.” 


She also shares how the protests for social justice affected her. 


“With everything being virtual, I feel like I was constantly on my phone and when those international and global protests came up, it made me want to really perfect my craft and work harder for my people and represent our people in a different light,” she explains, adding that she couldn’t attend any protests because of COVID-19 and preparing for college. “But I was always there in spirit.”


Holman hopes society progresses to be more supportive of one another, and shares her recommendations for how to make it happen. 

“I think we can come together by just being kind.”

“I know that sounds so cliché, but I feel like it’s been kind of thrown out the window, no one uses that phrase anymore. But just honestly being kind to each other will go a long way,” she says.