Former figure skater trading topik for law books

If you’ve heard of Aspen Ono, it is likely from a triple axel she landed on the ice. But now, the ice skater is looking to change the reason people know her name.

Ono is starting her first year of law school at the University of Virginia and wants to become an environmental lawyer.  

“To me, the use of spirited, stimulating and challenging discussion and debate is a fundamental tool in producing a stronger, more considerate community that can help improve the world in a more holistic manner,” Ono said. “Using our discussions and class time to push each other and make each other better – that’s something that I was really looking for, and that’s something that I felt like UVA offered.”

Ono is not scared of hard work and says her years of figure skating have taught her that mistakes are going to happen. 

“If you’re not learning to fail, you’re failing to learn,” Ono said. “And so getting up and learning from your mistakes and keeping going is what makes skating, and I think maybe any difficult pursuit, worth pursuing.”

Ono started figure skating at the age of 3. She placed in the top 10 at U.S. Figure Skating Showcase Nationals in 2012 and 2013 and won second place in the U.S. Figure Skating Upper Great Lakes Regionals in 2008. She skated competitively until she started college at Emory University, and continued to coach until COVID-19 struck.

“Figure skating is the first love of my life,” she said. “If I had thought it would have been a lucrative and life-giving career for the long haul, I would have stayed with it forever,” she said. “But being able to share this sport with people and see the joy and enthusiasm it can provide, even to adults, is great.”

Ono earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental science and international relations from Emory, and a master’s degree in resource, environment and sustainability from the University of British Columbia.

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