Student-Athletes Thrive in the College of Engineering
Teni Butler and Maddie Monroe are not only athletes at the University of Arkansas, competing on the soccer and swimming teams, but they are also full-time students in the College of Engineering.
Butler, a senior on the Razorback women's soccer team, knew she wanted to be an engineer since she was a little girl. Inspired by the relevancy of the field and admiration of her father, she chose to pursue a degree within the College of Engineering.
"It's applicable to many issues – social and political – we are facing in our society today," said Butler. "That was attractive to me because I knew I wanted to be involved and in a career that kept my thumb on the pulse of the important issues."
Graduating in four years is usually enough work for the average student, but on top of that, Butler has excelled as a competitive athlete and been involved with student organizations. She is the social chair for both the American Institute of Chemical Engineers student chapter and the chemical engineering honors society, Omega Chi Epsilon. She has also been a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee since her sophomore year, serving as a student representative to the Faculty Athletics Committee.
Off campus, Butler has dedicated her time to volunteering at the Washington County Animal Shelter and 7 Hills Homeless Shelter. She has started a benefit concert series to raise awareness and support of the shelter and goes once a week to sing and play guitar for clients as they eat lunch.
"I've found a lot of happiness in this because I enjoy playing, singing and being a part of something bigger than myself," said Butler.
She contributes many of her achievements – including being honored as a Female Scholar-Athlete of the year by the athletic department – to the encouragement she has received along the way.
"I've been able to balance athletics and academics and still find success in them," said Butler. "I know it's been difficult but my support systems – friends, family, teammates – have made that possible.
She also gave special thanks to professor and interim department head, Ed Clausen, and her head coach, Colby Hale.
"Dr. Clausen has been a great resource for me and all the other students in the chemical engineering department while still being able to know everyone of us," said Butler. "And my years with Coach Hale have been really special and formative for me."
Butler, her coaches, and the rest of the soccer team have made three conference tournament appearances (the first in 20 years) and two NCAA tournament appearances in the past four years, something Butler says she will always be proud of.
"Student-athletes are the most driven, most committed people I've met," said Butler. "Being a part of that is so formative because seeing the extra work people put in and the intensity they have to pursue their goals. It's all very inspiring to be a part of."
Maddie Monroe got interested in engineering the the same way as Butler. She was encouraged by her father, who was a construction supervisor, to pursue her interests in math and science and compete in science and math competitions.
Knowing how things work has always been Monroe's passion and mechanical engineering fit the bill.
"The mechanics of different components that make up a larger system has always been intriguing to me," said Monroe. "Mechanical engineers get a very well-rounded education in not only mechanics but also in materials, heat transfer, thermodynamics, and computer methods."
Between the hectic schedule of a college athlete and the intense courses of the mechanical engineering program, she said a crucial ingredient in success is time management.
"Between practice, rehab, study table, tutoring, coaches meetings, and team activities, many could not find the time to manage a rigorous engineering curriculum," said Monroe. "However, being a student-athlete, I have learned so much about managing my time and using resources available to me in order to be successful."
Monroe contributes her success in college to taking the time to get to know those in her major and on campus.
"Many times, student-athletes can become isolated from the rest of the student body," said Monroe. "Engineering concepts will be hard and something you will be overwhelmed with the amount of work to be done in a small amount of time. This is when you can lean on friends within your major to explain difficult concepts and collaborate on projects."
She also thanks her coach, Sean, for challenging her in all areas and pushing her to do things she thought were impossible.
"He encouraged me to grow as a leader not only on our team, but also on campus," said Monroe.
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