A Balancing Act

Looking at Katie Thyken's schedule during a one-week period this past fall, you might question how she did it all. The College of Science and Engineering student juggled a demanding academic schedule of 16 classes and labs in thermodynamics, design and manufacturing, electrical circuits, and biology. It was a heavy workload—and she had to finish it all by midweek.

On Wednesday night of that week, Thyken—co-captain of the Minnesota Gophers women’s soccer team—boarded a bus with her teammates and missed two days of classes. First stop: Madison, where her team won a dramatic victory against Wisconsin in the final minutes of double overtime. Next stop: Purdue, where Thyken scored two goals and earned herself honors as Big 10 offensive player of the week.

Not bad for a student who maintains a 3.9 GPA.

Thyken is one of a handful of students in the College of Science and Engineering who compete in Division I sports for the University of Minnesota. In this story, we meet four student-athletes who juggle the equivalent of two demanding full-time jobs.

About 750 student-athletes participate in University sports teams. According to Lynn Holleran, director of the McNamara Academic Center for Student-Athletes, only 8 percent of those athletes are enrolled in the College of Science and Engineering. “It’s challenging to be a full-time student-athlete, period,” she said. “Add to that the challenge of a major that oftentimes demands more hours—not only class hours—but many of the majors within the College of Science and Engineering demand additional labs, discussion sections, and work groups."

"They’re putting more time in the classroom which obviously takes away from something else," Holleran added. "Many CSE kids have less free time."

Below are the stories about four students in CSE who balance academics with athletics.

  • [intlink id="3365" type="post"]Katie Thyken: Shooting for the Goal[/intlink]
  • [intlink id="3363" type="post"]Justine Cherwink: Balancing Books and Beams[/intlink]
  • [intlink id="3367" type="post"]Tony Nelson: Carrying a Heavy Load[/intlink]
  • [intlink id="3369" type="post"]Isaac Hayes: Tackling a Tough Schedule[/intlink]