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Student Athlete Balances Academic and Sports Goals

As goalie for the UConn women’s lacrosse team, Kristen Haldeman relies on balance, intelligence and timing-the same attributes she finds give her the critical edge as a standout student enrolled in the competitive Biomedical Engineering (BME) program.

Ms. Haldeman, who completed her junior year at UConn and maintains a 4.0 GPA, chose UConn because it offered her an ideal opportunity to pursue two loves simultaneously: academics and athletics. UConn, which for six consecutive years has been ranked the number one public university in New England (U.S. News & World Report), also offers student athletes an unusual opportunity to play on nationally competitive sports teams. This works to UConn’s advantage in attracting students like Kristen, who in 2002, as a member of the Pennsylvania state championship lacrosse team, earned laurels as a two-time Honorable Mention All-American and the Defensive MVP. “I could tell from the start that the lacrosse team here was like a family, and this was a very important part of my decision, and the main reason I am so happy here today.”

Finding time to excel at both academics and athletics demands good time management. “I use every bit of free time I have during the day to do work so that I can focus on lacrosse and other things. Instead of napping like many students do when they have an hour or two off, I go somewhere and get my assignments done. Because of this, I really don’t have too much of a problem fitting everything in.”

In some ways, Ms. Haldeman sees her heavy schedule as advantageous. For one thing, the lacrosse “family”-coaches and teammates-weave a supporting fabric for her other activities. “My team is my family at school; I had 30 best friends from the day I stepped on campus,” she reflected. Second, like many students, she finds that a highly prescribed schedule keeps her focused on the task immediately at hand. “When I have too much free time,” she said, “I tend to do less work and studying because I am less motivated and procrastinate. With lacrosse practice, or traveling for games, I am forced to do my work early and not leave it for the last minute. I stay much more focused and motivated.”

The choice of Biomedical Engineering for her B.S. major was well suited to Ms. Haldeman’s career interests, since it integrates medicine, biology and engineering principles. She loved math and science throughout her pre-college days and planned to pursue a career in a discipline that exploited her acumen in these areas. Clearly, her prowess in math and science is being put to good use in the demanding BME program.

She is spending the summer playing in the lacrosse World Cup Tournament in Annapolis, MD for the Canadian national team. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school in either biomaterials or tissue engineering.