Gael students studying

Encouragement For Our Students During Finals Week

by President Richard Plumb | December 6, 2022

With our students in the midst of finals week here at Saint Mary’s, I’ve been thinking about how the discipline one cultivates as a collegiate athlete, artist, performer, or researcher (among other disciplines) can be applied in the classroom. 

As an undergraduate and competitive rower at Syracuse University, I had to maintain a strict regimen to perform at the highest level—both on the water and in the classroom. I was up at 5 a.m. each day and on the water by 6 a.m., ready to row and then in the classroom by 9:00. And this was Upstate New York, remember, so we’re talking about some frigid temperatures in March! But the discomfort of the cold weather was nothing compared to the physical and mental demands my teammates and I endured while training.

One of the lessons I learned as an undergraduate was that I was far more capable academically than I originally imagined. My training as an athlete helped me to develop good habits in the classroom, stick to intentional and purposeful routines, and approach my studies with intentionality and care.

students studying

In a similar manner, a musician will have spent countless hours playing their instrument in an effort to make it into the orchestra, and a creative writer may go through a multitude of drafts before landing on a written piece they find satisfying. But beyond the amount of time spent practicing or producing imperfect drafts, is the dedication and commitment required. I imagine there are countless other examples of callings and personal pursuits where single-mindedness, concentration, and crisp focus will lead to success and help one to reach their goals.

It doesn’t only fall on students’ shoulders to succeed in the classroom. Our faculty, staff, and coaches at Saint Mary’s also play a big role in our students’ academic performance. Their commitment in guiding our students toward academic achievement and success is an essential part of our community and what makes Saint Mary’s stand out from the rest.

Honing my own habits and study routines helped me academically as an undergraduate, and I continue to apply some of those same lessons today. As the semester comes to a close, I’ll also be rooting for our students to make it across this finish line, knowing they’ve got a dedicated team behind them. 

Good luck with your finals, Gael students!

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Richard Plumb, PhD