The PVC recently caught up with Dean Diane McKay; Assistant Dean of the College and Academic – Athletic Fellow to the women’s tennis team.
1. As an Academic-Athletic fellow what is your role with the team?
The role is evolving, but includes cheering for the team at matches, serving as a mentor to students (helping to answer questions, connecting them to campus resources, making them aware of opportunities), and partnering with Coach Sell to make sure that her players’ needs are met as they juggle the demands of their courses and their sport.
2. Have you traveled with the team and what was that experience like?
I’ve been fortunate to travel twice with the team this season. The first time was in February when we traveled to Durham, NC to play Indiana University and Duke (my alma mater). After experiencing a moment or two of cognitive dissonance during the match against the Devils, I finally crossed some emotional threshold and became a Tiger, which was one of the best things about the trip for me personally.
Most recently, I traveled with the team to Miami for their trip to the NCAA tournament, which was only the third time in the history of the program that Princeton was represented there. Watching the team fight through the heat to the last game of the third set of the last match was inspiring; watching them buckle down with books and laptops in the airport a few hours later made me appreciate all the more their ability to focus in the moment. It’s a trait in student athletes that I’ve long admired.
3. What is the highlight of being an Academic-Athletic fellow for you?
Getting to know team members as individuals.
4. How has your experience as an Academic-Athletic fellow helped you in your job at Princeton?
The students and coaches are terrific ambassadors for our university. The students have been generous in sharing their experiences with the peculiar pleasures and challenges of academic life at Princeton, and Coach Sell has been wonderful in offering me the opportunity to observe how she functions as teacher and mentor to our students.
5. What advice would you give all student-athletes at Princeton?
Ask for help as soon as you realize that you need it. Become an excellent manager of your time so that you put in your best effort and still have time left over to take care of yourself. And in your first year here, take at least one class just because the course description tantalizes you, even if it’s not immediately apparent where it will lead you, or what good it will do in helping you to reach your professional aspirations.
6. Would you recommend serving as an Academic-Athletic fellow to other professionals at the University?