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Balancing Academics with Athletics

Lehigh bioengineer Amanda Stratton excels in the classroom and on the field

Amanda Stratton '18 always knew she wanted to follow in her older sister’s footsteps. It was her sister’s dream to play soccer at the collegiate level, which became Amanda’s ambition as well.

Not only did Amanda want to play soccer, but she also wanted to study engineering at a Patriot League school. Eric Lambinus, head coach of Lehigh’s women’s soccer team, recruited Amanda after watching her play at a tournament during the winter break of Amanda’s junior year of high school. Amanda committed to Lehigh a month later.

“I chose Lehigh for the combination of great athletics and great academics,” Amanda says. “The team and coaching staff were so inviting and made me feel right at home, not to mention the campus is beautiful and the engineering program is one of the best in the country.”

Balancing act

Amanda’s dream is now a reality as the 5’10” sophomore engineer balances the rigors of a division one sport and Lehigh’s bioengineering program. Amanda a key defensive member of the Lehigh Women’s Soccer team, finished her freshmen year with a 3.86 GPA and was named to the Patriot League Honor Roll.

“It’s hard to balance but it’s almost useful to have soccer because it keeps me on track,” Amanda says.

“Amanda has been diligent in juggling multiple priorities at once by understanding and employing keystone habits of success,” says Julia Ammary, assistant director of athletics leadership. “She has the potential to grow into a strong team leader because of the solid foundation she has created by leading herself first.”

Amanda is not the only one on her team succeeding in academics and athletics. The Lehigh Women’s Soccer team was recently recognized with an NSCAA Academic Award for the 12th time in 13 seasons. The award recognizes teams with an overall GPA of 3.2 and above. The Lehigh Women’s team posted a team GPA of 3.36 for the 2014-2015 season.

Amanda attributes this accomplishment to her team’s dedication to their studies. Amanda’s teammates have created a support system for one another. Academically, they help each other study, especially on long bus rides to games, and go to the library together.

Teammates are just one of the support systems for Amanda. Coaches, professors and the athletics leadership program of the student leadership development program support Amanda’s academic and athletic needs. “My coach has been very supportive when it comes to academics,” Amanda says. “They want us to succeed and give us lots of tools to do so.”

“Her success and consistency comes from her overall approach to the challenges of being a student-athletes. She truly cares about her overall development as a student-athlete and does everything she can to help our team succeed," says Head Coach Eric Lambinus.

A powerful path into medical school

When Amanda was recruited to play soccer, one of the factors that caught her attention was Lehigh’s prestigious P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. After researching the bioengineering program, she was excited to see how its courses aligned with medical school requirements.

“I could have done the biology degree, but I felt as if the bioengineering degree would give me a head start in medicine after my undergrad,” Amanda says.

Lehigh’s interdisciplinary bioengineering program not only provides a traditional engineering background, but it teaches students how to apply engineering principles to life sciences. Since bioengineering is so broad, the program divides into three tracks – biopharmaceutal engineering; bioelectrics and biophontonics; and biomechanics and biomaterials. Each track aligns with a traditional engineering department. For example, since Amanda chose to pursue the biomechanics and biomaterials track, she will learn how to apply her foundation in mechanical engineering to biological systems.

“In bioengineering, we learn all about the biology and physiology of the systems in the body, but we also learn more about biocompatible materials, implants, devices, and cell and tissue growth and regeneration. I thought that having this background of the biological side of engineering would allow me to have better insight as a doctor. I will be able to apply what I know from bioengineering to problem solve actual medical problems that may occur,” Amanda says.

-Sarah Plombon '16 is a student-writer with the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science.

February 5, 2016

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