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My Student Athlete Story: Meredith Kalinowski

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I looked forward to college so I could be in a competitive environment and be challenged on a daily basis. Stanford was everything I wished for and it was entirely overwhelming. During my four years as a varsity student-athlete, I believe I encountered nearly every challenge that accompanies the arduous task of balancing both premier academics and athletics. But if I could go back, I wouldn’t change a single thing.

I was fortunate enough to be welcomed into the Stanford Women’s Lacrosse family by a wonderful team of peers that helped guide me through my adjustment to college. Adapting to a new location, friends and demanding academic setting is challenging enough for any eighteen year old. Blending a full class schedule with a rigorous athletic program, a new coaching style and team culture appends further challenges and responsibilities for a student away from home for the first time. However, Stanford provides a fantastic support system for its student athletes, which is a large portion of what makes being a part of the Stanford Athletics community so special and rewarding.

I found that one of the defining features of my student-athlete experience at Stanford was that I encountered excellence everywhere I turned. At first, it was intimidating and I often found myself wondering how I could possibly measure up to my extraordinary peers. I could play lacrosse, which did not seem nearly as impressive as the business owner down the hall in my freshman dorm or the sixteen-year-old pre-med major downstairs. I prided myself on my athletic accomplishments and suddenly what I had worked so hard for seemed underwhelming and mediocre.

I struggled through the beginning of my first year both academically and athletically. I was no longer the best player on my team and realized I still had a lot to learn, which admittedly shook my confidence, especially because I also doubted myself in the classroom. The subjects I aced in high school no longer came naturally to me. I can still remember sweat dripping down my back as my clammy palms flipped through the pages of my first exam, checking the coversheet to make sure it was actually my chemistry exam and not some foreign language. I soon realized that I was signing up for classes that I thought I should take rather than classes that sparked my intellectual curiosity and interest. Once I changed my mindset, I found that I genuinely enjoyed going to class, and this was reflected in my grades. Less stress in the classroom allowed me to succeed in my sport as I went on to become of the team captains my senior year.

Learning to coordinate the team’s travel schedule with professors in a timely manner was an important responsibility when in season. Fortunately, most professors were accommodating, which helped me realize that my athletic accomplishments were valuable. Being a student-athlete at Stanford requires discipline, time management, commitment, mental acuity, responsibility, teamwork, adaptability, and a great deal of pride in representing the university. I was able to play the sport I love while obtaining an elite education and developing useful life skills and characteristics for life after Stanford. My student-athlete experience has helped shape the strong and independent woman I am today and I am proud to be an alumna. Go Card!

Meredith Kalinowski

Science, Technology, and Society
Class of 2015

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