Molly Boyd’s first memory riding a bike wasn’t exactly a happy one.
“Growing up, there were stone stairs outside of our house that went down to the back yard. I had a friend over and she was getting in her car with her mom to leave when I decided to hop on my Little Mermaid bike and try to ride down those stairs. I wrecked and it scared me pretty badly,” she remembers.
The UTC alumna has come a long way since her younger years. Boyd now leads the Safety Initiative for Bicyclists and Pedestrians for the city of Collegedale. She coordinates events to teach and demonstrate bicycle and pedestrian safety to groups in Collegedale, Chattanooga and surrounding areas. She is also on the board for the local and statewide Bike Walk initiatives and a member of Erlanger Hospital’s Safe Kids coalition.
She regularly partners with local organizations such as the YMCA, Outdoor Chattanooga and Girls Inc., where she’s affectionately known as “the bike lady.”
“I do a lot of bicycle rodeos. They’re like an obstacle course for kids to learn how to ride a bike or improve their skills. I spend a lot of the rodeo just encouraging them. I love being able to instill confidence in kids,” she says.
“I work with kids a lot because proper safety education should start when we’re young. That way we’ll absorb it and carry it with us. Learning the bicycle safety and rules of the road won’t just make kids better cyclists but better drivers as well.”
Boyd wasn’t sure what she wanted to major in when she enrolled at UTC, but she knew she wanted an “unconventional type of education.” A lifelong love of the outdoors led her to Outdoor Recreation, where she found a mentor in Dr. Drew Bailey, UC Foundation assistant professor of health and human performance.
“What I loved about him was he’s so personable,” she explains. “He tells all of his students to call him Drew.
“He wasn’t just a professor, he let us know he was there to help guide us and mentor us. He would learn our personalities, so when we were looking for internships or jobs after graduation, he would point us to opportunities he thought were a good fit.
“He definitely taught me the importance of developing soft skills like effective communication and team-building,” she continues. “He would say that anyone can learn hard skills, like how to tie knots, but those soft, personal skills are hard to master.
“With his advice, I learned to challenge myself and put myself in more uncomfortable positions, like speaking up in board meetings. It really helped me grow and get where I am today.”