Early Mornings, Late Nights: The Lives of Graduate Student Athletes

epidemic granted NCAA athletes are able to compete in their own sport for an additional year as a result of interrupted sports seasons. The decision to use the additional year of eligibility is up to the athlete. At Emory University, various sports attest that student-athletes use that extra year to continue playing, and some do so while in graduate school.

Claire Ho, a first-year graduate student at Emory University School of Medicine, enrolled at Caltech for her undergraduate studies. While at Caltech, she ran cross-country, track and field, and wanted to continue competing during her first year of medical school across the country. While she knows medical school is very demanding, Hu still has a strong passion for running. After seeing how the cross-country season is going, Hugh plans to make her decision about track and field due to its demanding curriculum.

“If I can manage [time] Well, for the last couple of weeks of cross country racing, I might consider doing the track. “The coaches were very flexible with me.”

Hu stated that continuing her athletic career was not the deciding factor in the medical school application process. Instead, she focused on her research interests.

“Sports in particular did not affect my decision,” Hu Jintao said. “I applied for MD-PHD, which is a very selective process. I received two interview offers, one from Boston University and one from Emory. I was able to do an interview at both schools. Based on my research interests and what I wanted to do, I thought Emory was a better fit.” .

Although her ability to run for Emory’s cross-country team came later, Ho is very pleased with her ability to participate. With a solid support system, she is confident she can balance the rigorous missions of a medical school with the running.

“I put my feet in many different locations,” Hu said. “I have my own MD-PHD group, I have my medical school mates, I have my teammates. I think having this support system and having so many different sources of support and investing in several different places is a good thing, in the sense that I can get what I need emotionally from any available person.

She is the only graduate student in a cross-country program. She shared her thoughts on the team’s social framework.

“I came and introduced myself to the new students who are also in the same boat for being new and not integrated into the social groups,” he said. “It reminds us of my college days and is really fun. When you get into a new team environment it is normal to feel different, but it gets better with time. I tried to be a good teammate and get to know them on a more personal level. It just got better and better.”

Graduate student Claire is competing at the JSU Foothills Invitational on September 2. (Courtesy of Claire Hu)

Just like Hu, Ethan Thompson is a graduate student on cross-country track and field teams. He is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and is in the Ph.D. program in physical therapy at Emory University School of Medicine. Thompson ran cross-country and tracked all four years of his college experience, choosing to practice his extra year of eligibility to continue doing something he loved.

Thompson discussed his simultaneous adaptation to a new school and new team.

“It was great in the sense that my program started in June, so I was able to get a feel for the program before the season started,” Thompson explained. “During that time, I ran with my teammates who were living here during the summer as well. So I ran slow with the team and it was really nice to have some on-going relationships before I get to meet the full squad at our pre-season camp.”

Thompson also discussed moving to a college sports team as a graduate student.

“I really enjoyed it,” Thompson said. “It has definitely been a change now that I am in graduate school. At the same time, it was great to meet the rookies and they still have some connection to the youthful side they bring to the team. It has been really good for me overall and it has made me open minded.”

Since Thompson’s classes start at 8 a.m., he’s unable to run with the team during the week. Instead, he has to run at 6 a.m. before his classes. Despite this, Thompson tries to make the most of it by building close relationships with his new teammates.

“Other than getting up early and not being able to train with the team, it was very easy to manage,” Thompson said. “I still come to workout briefly every day at 7 am because I run every day before exercise, check in with the coach, and then say good morning to the team. I still get this daily interaction to foster that relationship and connection before my 8 am classes.”

Graduate student Ethan Thompson competes at the JSU Foothills Invitational on September 2. (Courtesy of Ethan Thompson)

While she wasn’t in high school, Lauren Bandera, the captain of the volleyball team, was at Emory for an extra semester. She is able to afford her coursework and benefit from her extra year of eligibility to compete in another season. Bandera transferred from Georgia State University to Emory during her sophomore year. Despite being one of the oldest on the team, Bandera enjoys spending an extra semester with her teammates.

“The dynamic is one I was new to and I wasn’t sure what it would be like,” Bandera said. “It kind of struck me that I feel so close to most of them. I think age doesn’t really matter. Maturity-wise, it was kind of shocking, meaning I respect them all and don’t feel the age difference. I really enjoy it.”

Bandera mentioned how grateful she was for dedicating most of her time to volleyball as she was only enrolled in two classes in the last semester. Bandera has expanded on her leadership role and how she hopes to set a high standard for the program. As the oldest and one of four Captains, she feels like a role model on the show.

“Because of my situation, I can spend more time in volleyball,” Bandera said. “They have put me in leadership positions. Now that I have more time, I can move forward with more things like checking in with lower class students. In the past, my course load varied depending on how much time I could work. It’s really good to shed light on the classes in the last semester.”

LIbro graduate Lauren Bandera competes in a game against LaGrange College (Georgia) on September 1. (Courtesy of Lauren Bandera)

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