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cross country/track and field

inducted February 18, 2006

Columbia University was not high on Devon Martin's roster of college choices. Indeed, the South Pasadena, Calif.,  native has admitted that she hadn't even heard of the school 3000 miles away until a friend, sitting next to her in a high school English class and leafing through a college book, indicated Columbia and told her, "Here, this is the place for you."

 When Devon Martin entered Columbia, she had run the 1500 meters in 5:09. Three years later, she had lowered it to a 4:29 … and then she met Jackie Blackett.

Blackett was named Columbia’s track and field coach in Martin’s senior year, the third coach Devon had had at Columbia, and the best. Using a rare ability to inspire, Blackett brought out the best in the Columbia senior.

Martin began to put up great numbers and go to national championships. To this day, she holds the Columbia record in the 1500 outdoors (4:18.04), is second in the 3000 outdoors (9:31.61), third in the mile indoors (4:53.24) and is among Columbia’s top five ever at the Van Cortlandt Park cross country course. 

Fifteen years have passed since Devon Martin graduated from Columbia. She has qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1500 meters, kicked off a promising Masters running career with two world championships in the past three years, also in the 1500; and become head coach of the fastest-growing track club in New York, Central Park Track Club.

She has survived two bouts with kidney cancer, undergoing surgery for one in 1994 while at Oxford University in England on a Fulbright Scholarship and fought her way back to finish 10th in the 1996 British Indoor Nationals. She ran for Oxford, gaining her Oxford Blue, and earned a two-year law degree there, followed by an L.L.M. at Harvard.

She divides her time among directing the track club, competing, and a full-time associate's position with the famed New York City law firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore.

And the woman from Southern California will never forget her initial visit to Columbia.

“I visited in the dead of winter and fell in love with it. I applied elsewhere, but Columbia was the only Ivy League school. It was the last acceptance letter I received. I had to sweat it out. If I hadn’t been admitted, I would have been devastated.”

And so would we.