By Nicholas Beauchesne, Sports Editor
With only two weeks left of the semester, many students are preparing for their final exams at USM. Graduating seniors see the end of their undergraduate experience just beyond the stack of books and pile of projects that await them.
For those seniors that participated in collegiate athletics during their time at the university, an extra layer is added to the feeling of closing a chapter in their lives. Their careers as student athletes, most stretching back to their earliest days of childhood, comes to a close when they walk the aisle to get their diploma.
Kenzie Sullivan, a senior from Lewiston majoring in mechanical engineering, is ready to approach the next chapter in her life with the same focus and determination that made her stand out as a student-athlete during her four years at USM.
As a three sport varsity athlete during her time at Lewiston high school, Sullivan came to Gorham with thoughts of continuing the path of playing competitive sports year round. During her freshman year she was a member of the soccer, indoor track and lacrosse teams. As competitive as she was, and still is, it became clear during that first year that sacrifices needed to be made in order to achieve a balance between her love of sports and her commitment to academics during her time at USM.
“During my sophomore year I played soccer and lacrosse and then junior and senior year I played just soccer” Sullivan said.
The decision to dial back from playing three sports to focusing solely on soccer was one that enabled Sullivan to excel in the challenging major of mechanical engineering, in which she has accrued a cumulative 3.2 GPA. The results of her commitment to academic excellence are clear to see: she has recently accepted a position at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard as an engineer in radiological controls.
Despite the fact that she will be moving on to a career at one of the most prestigious places of employment in the region, Sullivan remains grateful for the opportunities and experiences being an athlete at USM has provided her with during the past four years.
“I think anyone that has the chance to play college sports should do so” Sullivan said. “ I am a better person and better student because of college soccer.”
Sullivan is excited to enter professional life and take the next step at Portsmouth. She plans to move down to the area after graduation, and sees her experience at USM as an integral part of how she was able to secure employment there. Even though she won’t be representing USM on the playing field anymore, she still sees herself as an athlete long after she leaves the university.
“I don’t think I could ever stop being active” she said. “It’s just the way I am. I play in a soccer league now with a few other alumni and have plans to join soccer and softball leagues down in Falmouth.”
Some of the best things about being able to compete as a college athlete are the memories and relationships you form with your teammates. These connections last long after the last whistle blows on a college career, and Sullivan is aware and appreciative of them.
“One of the fondest memories I have is whitewater rafting with my soccer girls after what seemed like a month of preseason,” she stated. “ We got to float down the river and just swim around and it was so fun.”
It is that combination of hard work and the rewards that come with it that have directed her path up to this point. With the foundation that she has built for herself, as an athlete, a student and a person, Sullivan looks poised to succeed in the next phase of her life as well. The USM community wishes her the best of luck in her future endeavors and is grateful for the hard work she put in during her time here as a Husky.