Developing Everyday Champions
Educational Support Services Spur Student-Athlete Success
Being a successful college rower can be like performing in a circus high wire act. Balancing up to 20 hours of practice each week, academics, travel, competition, service and a social life can test the limits of even the most committed student-athletes. Just ask SJU women’s varsity 8 captain Brittany Stokes ’16.
“Depending on your sport, you can spend a lot of time out of the classroom,” the senior said.
After transferring to SJU for her sophomore year, Stokes had trouble achieving balance between her rowing and class schedules and was struggling in a math course. After investigating options available through the Office of Educational Support Services for Student-Athletes, Stokes started working with a math peer tutor, her teammate Megan Michaels ’15.
“She was able to work with me for multiple hours a week to make sure I was improving in my classes,” said Stokes. “With help, I was able to do a 180 degree turn in the classroom. I started doing a lot better academically. This year is my best yet.”
Stokes, who was named to the fall 2015 Athletic Director’s Honor Roll for maintaining a 3.0 GPA, is just one of the academic success stories facilitated through the Office of Educational Support Services for Student-Athletes.
Tutors are but one area in which the Hawk Athletic Fund makes a direct and tangible impact on SJU’s approximately 520 student-athletes. Gifts to the Hawk Athletic Fund provide vital resources which supplement scholarships, travel and training equipment and allow the University to offer and expand a broad range of programs designed to enhance academic, athletic, personal and spiritual growth, as well as professional and career development.
“The parameters put on a student-athlete are far different than those on other students,” said Janet Greder, director of Academic Services for Student-Athletes. “When they are struggling, we give them emotional and academic support – it’s the name of the game. With persistence and hard work, they really can achieve success at SJU.”
Serving as a liaison between the athletic department, faculty and administration, Greder and her two office teammates provide student-athletes with many resources to assist them in reaching their academic goals, including:
- Secondary academic advisors work with student-athletes in conjunction with the faculty advisor to help assemble a schedule that works with practice times.
- Learning specialists and academic mentors work with student-athletes to resolve time management and organization issues or provide support in specific classes.
- Reading specialists work with student-athletes who may have reading and writing disabilities.
- Freshmen seminars teach student-athletes how to succeed in sessions correlated with Student Life’s Transformative Learning Goals.
- Dedicated study hall hours are required for freshmen student-athletes during the fall semester and for those with less than a 2.0 GPA.
Her office also assists student-athletes in navigating the elaborate maze of parameters the NCAA sets forth for them to maintain their eligibility.
“Because of those missed days, it is easy to get lost in class, especially if the subject isn’t a strong point for you.”
“It’s important for student-athletes to receive academic support services because we have academic struggles just like anyone else,” said Stokes, who looks forward to coaching inner-city high school youth rowing and is preparing to take the LSAT and attend law school in Philadelphia. “It shows SJU cares about how we do in athletics and academics. It is a great feeling to know we are believed in beyond our athletic performance.”