By Katherine Schaffer, a senior team captain on the St. Mary's College of Maryland women's soccer team and SAAC Co-President
I feel extremely blessed to be given another opportunity to share my experience as a student-athlete and my transition from a junior to a senior. Last year, I told you about the hardships of my first three years in The Endless Possibilities, and finally, I am in my last year and what a ride my college experience has been. I remember everything like it was yesterday, walking up to the ARC as a first year and looking around the halls, feeling as if I was a child ready to escape my parents' clutches. Now, I look around me and think to myself, there isn't a thing I would change in these past four years.
I played for the women's soccer team and was appointed captain for my final season. I am currently an active member of the Lexington Park Rescue Squad. Just this year, I was appointed as an ambulance sergeant in charge of maintaining an ambulance, making sure everything is working and supplies are in stock. I am co-President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, whose goal is to involve athletes in campus and community activities. This year, we worked with Special Olympics and put on a field day. We also worked with Adopt-a-Family during Christmas and each team gave to a family in need. We will also be aiding our men's lacrosse team with their Face-Off for a Cause event to benefit Wounded Warrior Project on April 12th. Lastly, I am still an active member in Tri-Beta Biology Honor Society.
Most students would state that their senior year is probably their easiest; a reduction in the amount of classes and really only their St. Mary's Project to focus on. However, I picked a different course of action. I loaded myself up with difficult courses that not only challenged my time management and me as a student, but also drove my desire to continue learning. This course load, along with soccer, took most of my time, but St. Mary's has helped me these past three years to realize that this school provides many rare things. St. Mary's provides (1) professors who are willing to aid you in any difficult situation you are in, as long as you are responsible for your actions and communicate efficiently; (2) coaches with an understanding that academia comes first, who help you both on and off the field/court; and (3) one of the most important things I have come to terms with is that the students, your teammates, are some of the most valuable resources you could ever ask for. I noted in my previous essay that in some schools, teammates are your biggest competitors, and only that, but St. Mary's has created an environment where your fellow teammates are not only your competitors for playing time, but they're your best friends, study partners, and people who will stay in your life once you leave "Camp St. Mary's".
Without these resources, I would not be the passionate, driven, and determined person that I am today. With just two months left, I am continuously reminded of how beautiful this school is, with the picture perfect sunsets, the morning hellos to staff and students, and the many close friendships knitted together through St. Mary's encouragement. This coming summer, I will join the research team for the Undiagnosed Disease Program at the National Institute of Health for two years at the encouragement of the faculty and will then apply for medical school.
As my closing words, I want to let the first-years and sophomores know that they should enjoy every moment they have on and off the field. I never thought my collegiate experience would end so soon and I know I will miss the intensity and competiveness, but I encourage future classes to push for success. For the juniors, soon to be seniors, please understand that senior year is the beginning of a completely new experience. Continue to challenge yourself mentally and physically, don't stress about jobs and interviews; you have amazing faculty who will work with you side-by-side to reach your goal.
I am incredibly proud to call myself a Seahawk.
Twitter: @smcseahawks, @NCAADIII, #SeahawkAthletics, #d3week, #whyd3