OXFORD, Ohio - While many of Miami University's 16,000-plus students strive for perfection in the classroom, a select few RedHawk student-athletes actually did achieve that elusive 4.0 semester report card last fall.
Combining their intelligence, extraordinary effort and exceptional time-management skills with the valuable resources made available to them by Miami's faculty and staff, 19 individuals ultimately reached their lofty objectives.
More than a quarter of the 19 "perfect" student-athletes were members of Coach Dave Jennings' swimming and diving team, including seniors Ellen Barhorst and Lisa Werwinski, sophomore Cynthia Donovan, and freshmen Stephanie Nemeth and Emma Szczupakiewicz.
"I feel very proud to have achieved a 4.0 last semester," said Szczupakiewicz. "It is not something many students are able to do, let alone student-athletes. I'm honored to be a representation of all the hard work Miami 's student-athletes put into their education every day."
Senior Julianne Parece is one of three synchronized skaters who achieved perfection in the classroom.
"It is extremely difficult to balance the commitments of being an athlete with requirements in the classroom," said Parece, "but I believe it is my tight schedule that challenges me to work my hardest in both areas. I try my best to take everything one day at a time so that I can give my full attention and effort to all of my responsibilities."
Courtney Larson, a sophomore on the RedHawk women's basketball team and one of the 19 student-athletes to attain a 4.0 grade point average, agrees with Parece that finding a balance is one of the keys to her success.
"Being a student-athlete is a big responsibility for anyone to take on," she said. "As an athlete, we spend hours practicing and preparing for upcoming events as well as attending classes to get good grades. Finding a balance between the two is difficult at times, but it all comes down to time management. It can be hard to not worry about all I have to do for school at practice or while we are traveling, but I like to think of my sport as an escape from school. I know, while on the court, my focus needs to be on basketball and helping make our team successful. Off the court I am a student and I put just as much work into school as I do my sport. In order to do this I use my down time traveling or after practice to stay ahead on my work. I try to form relationships with my teachers so they know I am not just an athlete but a student as well."
Senior distance runner David Eichenberger agrees with his fellow athletes, saying that the combination of athletics and academics presents difficulties.
"At the very same time that commitment forces me to be diligent, organized, and a good manager of my time," he says. "Sometimes it can be almost easier to get everything done when following a strict schedule."
One common denominator to the student-athletes' success in the classroom is the dedication of Miami's faculty and staff.
"My professors were a big help this semester," said Parece. "Even though my courses were demanding, my professors provided a great deal of guidance by working with my hectic schedule, answering my millions of questions during office hours, and really pushing me to explore what I wish to accomplish in the future."
"Many of my professors made time to meet with me outside of their normal office hours due to my conflicting schedule," said Larson."On days I had to miss class due to traveling or games, they always were flexible and allowed me to make up work or go over material I had to miss.
Junior Mason Krysinski, a kicker for Miami's football team, also is indebted to his academic mentors.
"I have been very blessed to have professors who do an incredible job on making my learning experience very personal and far reaching," said Krysinski. "Dr. Benjamin Gung (Organic Chemistry) and Dr. Ann Hagerman (Biochemistry), have really spent the time and the effort to challenge me to take my experience to another level. Dr. Gung has afforded me with the opportunity to study organic synthesis chemistry in his research lab and has offered me the ability to transform my classroom experiences into a real world encounter. Dr. Hagerman has always encouraged me to question classroom concepts on a deeper level. As my academic advisor, she has also taken a personal interest in ensuring that I am best prepared to enter medical school and that I have explored all possible career paths. I figure that when you have professors who are willing to spend that much effort with a student, it is hard not to do well."
Don't forget athletics' academic counselors, says Szczupakiewicz.
"From the very beginning, our athletic advisors have helped me with scheduling conflicts, setting up tutors, and being readily available to meet with me around practice times," she said." All of the resources that were available to me were comforting and they definitely allowed me to succeed quickly."
Miami's new athletic director, David Sayler, is impressed with the overall efforts of the RedHawk student-athletes.
"They really are students first," said Sayler, "and their performance in the classroom speaks volumes of their character and time management skills."
He also credits Assistant Athletic Director for Academic Support Services Craig Bennett and his staff.
"They do a phenomenal job of supporting our student-athletes," he said. "We are fortunate to have their expertise on our staff and I want to thank them and all of the faculty here on campus for their efforts with our student-athletes."
Miami's 4.0 student athletes will be honored at halftime of next Saturday's men's basketball game against Ball State.
The entire list of student-athletes who earned 4.0 grade-point averages during the 2012 fall semester:
Evan Bader, Men's Swimming & Diving, Freshman, Oxford, OH
Ellen Barhorst, Women's Swimming & Diving, Senior, West Chester, OH
Shannon Carmody, Synchronized Skating, Junior, Menlo Park, CA
Cynthia Donovan, Women's Swimming & Diving, Junior, Cincinnati, OH
David Eichenberger, Men's Cross Country, Senior, Plainfield, IN
Samantha Gable, Women's Track and Field, Senior, Greenfield, IN
Erica Howes, Women's Track and Field, Junior, Fairfax, VA
Mason Krysinski , Football, Junior, Shelby Township, MI
Courtney Larson, Women's Basketball, Sophomore, Columbus, IN
Ashley Malin, Synchronized Skating, Senior, Mason, OH
Stephanie Nemeth, Women's Swimming & Diving, Freshman, Highland Heights, OH
Julianne Parece, Synchronized Skating, Junior, North Reading, MA
Jacob Prodoehl, Men's Swimming and Diving, Freshman, Milwaukee, WI
Christina Raymond, Tennis, Junior, Westerville, OH
Meg Riley, Volleyball, Sophomore, St. Louis, MO
Emma Szczupakiewicz ,Women's Swimming & Diving, Freshman, Muskego, WI
Haley Walter, Soccer, Freshman, Cincinnati, OH
Lisa Werwinski , Women's Swimming & Diving, Senior, Canton, OH
Katherine Wollney, Women's Cross Country, Freshman, Cary, IL