Pursuing Excellence in the Classroom, in the Field and on the Court
Published on 14 April 2021
At University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis, student-athletes not only gain a world-class education but also make connections across campus and develop valuable leadership and teamwork skills that prepare them for their future careers.
For junior Jessica Wood, competing on the Eutectics Women’s Softball and Women’s Soccer teams has given her the confidence and communication skills to pursue a career in biomedical research.
“I came to UHSP because I wanted academics to be my first priority and still play on a collegiate team,” Wood explained. “I looked for a prestigious science program that would support both my academic and athletic goals. When I visited UHSP, I knew it was the right place for me.”
In her first year, Wood began working with Jean Escudero, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology, who studies antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
“While working with Dr. Escudero, I discovered a passion for bench research,” Wood said. “I look forward to pursuing my Ph.D. in microbiology or immunology and building a career in biomedical research.”
When she’s not working in the lab or attending classes, Wood is practicing with her teams or traveling to softball or soccer games. Playing key roles on both teams has taught her the importance of communication.
“Switching between two very different sports has taught me how to adapt my communication style to fit the group that I’m working with,” Wood explained. “That’s helped me gain the confidence I need to communicate well with my professors, and it will help me communicate with future research teams.”
In addition to her academic and athletic pursuits, Wood also serves as the editor-at-large for the student news publication, Pharmakon, and assists the Office of Student Affairs with Week of Welcome and other on-campus events.
“As a UHSP athlete, it’s my responsibility to represent UHSP well and mentor younger players,” Wood said. “My teammates and I support each other as athletes and as students. So supporting other students across campus feels natural. It’s all part of being on a team.”
Junior Darius Dorsey always knew he wanted to be the first in his family to pursue a doctoral degree. Playing for the Eutectics Men’s Basketball team has given him the opportunity to pursue his dream of becoming a pharmacist within a supportive community of student-athletes.
“When I first came to UHSP, I didn’t know how to study for college classes,” Dorsey explained. "[ Junior] Makenzie Schierding, a women’s basketball player, invited me to her study group, and that group of students taught me new ways of thinking and good study habits. Now, I’m as confident in academics as I am in athletics.”
In addition to his studies, Dorsey works for a community pharmacy, where he draws on what he has learned in the classroom and on the court.
“Working as a pharmacy technician is like being on a basketball team,” Dorsey said. “We have to work together to achieve a common goal while being as efficient as possible. In both pharmacy and basketball, you have to keep a positive attitude and support your team through adversity.”
Dorsey has become a leader among his fellow student-athletes, serving as a member of the Black Student Alliance, volunteering with the Office of Student Affairs and encouraging his teammates to succeed.
“Being a leader as a student-athlete means making sure that everybody is bringing 100% to practice and academics,” Dorsey explained. “When I see a teammate who looks tired or discouraged, I’m there to motivate them and remind them that we all want to win.”
He credits his experience as an athlete and the support of Danny Brown, head coach of men’s basketball, with helping him pursue excellence both on the court and in his classes.
“Waking up at 5 a.m. every day for two hours of practice before class can be challenging — mentally and physically,” Dorsey said. “But it’s given me a strong work ethic and puts me in the right frame of mind for school so that I’m able to do everything I can to be successful.”
At UHSP, student-athletes find a supportive community of students, faculty and staff who work together to help them pursue their health sciences education while developing lifelong friendships and effective leadership skills. To learn more about the UHSP Eutectics, visit eutecticsports.com