DANBURY, Conn. -- Western Connecticut State University recently named 15 student athletes to the university's Honors Program.
The Honors Program at Western was founded in 1987 to foster and nurture academic excellence among outstanding students in all four schools of the university.
The Honors Program student-athletes are Karissa Smith (volleyball), Melissa DiNino (basketball), Thea Martin (soccer), Alexandrea Sabith (softball), Lydia Walter (softball), Jennifer Hogan (volleyball), Cady Cordes (volleyball), Path Bhavsar (tennis), Karen Velez (tennis), Katherine Robison (swimming/diving), Brennan Diaz (football), Michael French (rugby), Andres Jimenez-Frank (soccer), Nicole Mair (rugby) and Meaghan Gustafson (soccer).
WCSU freshman Karissa Smith was named this season as Little East Conference Rookie of the Week.
“I think all of our student athletes do an amazing job," said Don Ferguson, who coaches Smith and the WCSU volleyball team. "To be able to balance the demands of a competitive college athletics schedule that includes practices, team meetings, travel, competition dates and community service with a challenging academic course load is extremely difficult.
"Many of the student athletes here at Western bring with them a history of time management and success in the classroom, while many others are experiencing this intensity for the first time. To be successful at both, you must be a person who values both academics and athletics and understand that you have to work hard in order to achieve success in either. “
The Honors Program is designed to "expose students to fundamental modes of inquiry found in various academic fields, and to illustrate the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to exploring a topic or issue," university officials said. The program has two pathways: a complete program open to first-year students and first-semester sophomores, and a one-year program (or associate option) available to juniors and seniors.
“In my own experience, I find that those student athletes who work hard in the classroom are the same ones who will be willing to work hard on the court,” Ferguson said. “These students also have excellent priorities in place when they arrive on campus. It helps create a culture and atmosphere where academic achievements are valued as much as athletic success.”