SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Over 30 senior student-athletes at Lake Superior State University have proven themselves in athletic competition over the past four years, but as they approach commencement on Saturday, April 27, many of them are leaving athletics behind to pursue careers based upon their academic degrees.
The senior student-athletes at Lake Superior State are graduating with a wide range of degrees, including history, criminal justice, finance and economics, business administration, engineering, nursing and forensic chemistry.
A fish health major with a minor in biochemistry, Andrews is a member of the women's tennis team at Lake Superior State. A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, she grew up enjoying fishing and that drew her to fish health. During her studies, she became interested in aquaculture – the rearing of aquatic animals and the cultivation of aquatic plants.
Following graduation, Andrews will be starting a job at AquaBounty Technologies, working at a fish hatchery in Indiana. In her position, she will be assisting with raising Atlantic salmon. Andrews credits the reputation of the fisheries and wildlife management program and the professors at Lake Superior State with helping her obtain the position. She credits the small class size at Lake Superior State in giving her ample hands-on experience to set her up for career success.
On the tennis court, Andrews played No. 6 singles and No. 2 doubles and was part of the LSSU women's tennis team that this year made its way back to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament for the first time since 2011-12.
Reflecting upon her favorite aspects of Lake Superior State, Andrews said, "I really enjoyed getting to know my classmates and professors and the social aspects of going to a small school. I was able to make friends with a lot of the students on campus."
Another senior, who has enjoyed the small school feel of LSSU, is Hulan. A native of London, Ontario, Hulan is a political science major and a member of the women's golf team. The close proximity to her native Canada has helped her feel more comfortable by reminding her of home during her time at Lake Superior State.
Hulan chose political science as a major so that she could sample a variety of classes, particularly the international classes offered. She enjoys the challenge to understand varying political concepts as she develops her own world view. Hulan carries a 3.84 cumulative grade point average.
Having completed her collegiate athletic career at the GLIAC Golf Tournament last weekend, Hulan believes the political science program has set her up well to succeed in her next step – attending the University of Western Ontario for law.
Of her time at Lake Superior State, Hulan said, "I would recommend it to anyone."
Smith — a geology major from Hudsonville, Michigan — also likes the broad nature of his major. He said he found his passion for Geology when he took a class pertaining to it in high school.
Smith, a member of the cross country and track and field teams, said, "I enjoy how broad geology can get. When I first got here, I did not think it was so multidisciplinary." He added, "It is not just looking at rocks and being able to identify them, but being able to takes knowledge from different disciplines and put that together. That is what I enjoy."
Smith was drawn to Lake State by the "strong geology program and the running too. I was not a huge fan of going to a school of 30,000 students. I wanted a better professor to student ratio." Smith added, "There is a homey vibe. I did not feel overwhelmed my first day and the staff is pretty friendly. I felt welcomed from the beginning."
In his time at Lake Superior State, Smith has been named to the Dean's List and GLIAC All-Academic Team, and was the recipient of a scholarship that was awarded for his outstanding academic performance in geology. Smith said that the geology program has prepared him well for a career following graduation. He noted several areas of specialty to direct his career including hydrology, petroleum and oil and gas exploration, evaluating the environment for contaminants, seismology, volcanology and environmental hazards.
The outdoor track season is ongoing with the GLIAC Outdoor Championships being held on May 1-3 in Allendale, Michigan. Earlier this track season, he ran a personal-best time of 4:06.74 in the 1,500-meter run at the Spartan Invitational on April 5-6. Smith is staying focused on the last events of his intercollegiate athletic career, but he is also planning his future. Smith will choose between attending graduate school to learn more about seismology or start a career related to geology with the plan of going back to graduate school in a few years.
Another senior with a few possible career paths is Kossoff. A native of West Des Moines, Iowa and a kinesiology major, Kossoff recently concluded his collegiate hockey career. A goaltender, Kossoff signed with the Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL following the Lakers' 2018-19 season.
On why he chose kinesiology, Kossoff said, "I have always been interested in the body and how it works, so it was an easy choice for me when I came to Lake Superior State." Once beginning the program, Kossoff enjoyed the "real world application" aspects of the classes. He has a 3.96 cumulative GPA at LSSU and has been named a WCHA Scholar-Athlete multiple times.
Like his fellow seniors, Kossoff enjoyed getting to know people better and created more personal connections with his peers than he thinks he would have if he had been at a bigger school.
He also liked the Sault Ste. Marie area.
"I played junior hockey in a small town, so it made the transition here fairly easy," Kossoff said. "There were not too many distractions, which allowed me to focus on school and hockey."
Reflecting upon his favorite moments on the ice, Kossoff said, "As a team, winning the Great Lakes Invitational earlier this year for the first time in program history is my favorite memory. Individually, getting a shutout in my first collegiate start and leading the team out to the victory bell was special."
Now that he is graduating, Kossoff, who won the Cliff Everett Male Athlete Award as the top male athlete and the Kiwanis Scholastic Award for having the highest grade point average of any LSSU senior student-athlete at this year's Anchor Awards, plans on playing hockey as long as he can before he moves on to medical school.
Reflecting upon how the kinesiology program prepared him for his future, "I think everything I have done here has been pretty in depth and I have gotten a good introduction into the human body. I think that is a big head start for me going into medical school."
Another senior who enjoyed the Sault Ste. Marie area is Jacobsen, a member of the women's basketball team. A native of West Lafayette, Indiana, Jacobsen has a 3.62 cumulative GPA and has been both a Dean's List and GLIAC Academic honoree at Lake Superior State. She is a mathematics major with a focus in secondary education and a minor in English.
"It is super pretty here (Sault Ste. Marie) in the warmer months," Jacobsen said. "We get a lot of snow, but there are fun outdoor activities like cross country skiing, tubing and snowmobiling. You also get a different perspective that you can't get anywhere else, being so close to Canada. It is a five-minute drive to the bridge and then you are in a different country. It is a different perspective and a really cool place to be around."
In discussing her plans for the future, Jacobsen said that she will student teach in the fall of 2019 and she hopes to get a full-time teaching job in the spring of 2020. She is certified to teach grades 6-12 and she would like to try different grades to see which age level she prefers. Jacobsen said her goal is to end up somewhere where she is able to teach, while also coaching basketball.
As graduation approaches, Jacobsen reflects upon her student-athlete experience.
"I was grateful to be able to play basketball — a game I love — and still pursue my education," Jacobsen said. "Especially at this level, the classroom is an emphasis of our athletics program. Our coaches always made sure, and understood, that we were student-athletes. We loved playing basketball, and we were always going to give our 100% effort there, but we were also going to give 100% effort in the classroom. I loved how they understood that academics were important too."
A senior nursing major who feels well prepared for a career following graduation, Kelley is a member of the volleyball team. A Dean's List honoree in her time at LSSU, Kelley said, "The professors have really helped me feel confident in clinical settings. Between the clinical instructors and the professors in the classroom, I feel prepared to apply what I have learned in the classroom to clinical settings."
On the volleyball court, Kelley tallied 201 kills and 95 digs in 49 matches over three seasons as an outside hitter. She said that head coach Dave Schmidlin and her professors were very accommodating so that she could play volleyball, while also putting in the work needed to prepare to be a nurse.
Upon the completion of her program, Kelley is interested in working in a variety of settings, including a surgical floor of a hospital, a cardiovascular unit, and labor and delivery.
Looking back at her time in the nursing program at LSSU, Kelley said, "The professors have prepared me to be a good nurse."
The senior student-athletes at Lake Superior State have learned many things in their time competing on the field of play and studying in the classroom, but following commencement on Saturday, they will use the skills and knowledge they have acquired to embark upon the next step of their lives.