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Ponaganset alumna finds success on and off field
Student Success Story, May 26, 2011
Student athletes take on extra responsibilities and challenges in balancing their academics, jobs and social lives with a busy schedule of practicing and traveling for games.
One student who seems to have mastered this delicate balance is Foster resident Melody Lawrence, 19, co-captain and goalkeeper of the CCRI Lady Knights soccer team. Lawrence, a General Studies major with a 3.22 GPA, graduated today and will attend the College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., to study biology. She hopes to go on to veterinary school.
She started at CCRI in fall 2009 after graduating from Ponaganset High School.
“I was not planning on coming to CCRI; I was going to go to the University of Rhode Island, but then I talked to the soccer coach here and I was really impressed with the program,” Lawrence said.
She proved a highly effective goalkeeper, setting college records for most consecutive shutouts in a season, shutout victories in a career and most shutouts in a season.
As one of three co-captains, Lawrence helped lead the Lady Knights to play in the NJCAA National Tournament in the 2009-10 season, defeating their rival, Monroe Community College, to get there.
CCRI had lost to Monroe earlier in the season and was looking for revenge in a game to decide who would advance to the national tournament. “They’re our nemesis; they always give us a battle,” Lawrence said. “They’re our best competition in our region.”
CCRI had lost to Monroe 0-2 in the first match and reversed that score on Monroe’s home field to advance. Lawrence considers this the highlight of her career as a college athlete so far. “It was amazing to beat Monroe,” she said. “One of the best feelings ever.”
The Lady Knights went to Tyler, Texas, to compete in the nationals but were eliminated after two games. “It’s just an honor to be there and be surrounded by other teams that you know are pretty good,” Lawrence said.
The national tournament was not Lawrence’s first time on the road, and she found it challenging to manage her academics and travel schedule throughout her career.
“It’s tough, especially with soccer, because we travel a lot,” Lawrence said. “We went to Michigan, Florida, Texas and Maryland. It felt like we were going away every week.” The student-athletes had study sessions on buses and planes and in hotel lobbies.
Lawrence added, “Even when you’re home you’re staying up late because you didn’t get back from practice until 8 o’clock and you have to do your work.”
Like all CCRI athletes, Lawrence used the Student Athlete Academic Support Program to stay on top of her studies. She thanked her advisers in that program for their dedication.
Lawrence also was involved in another group for student athletes: the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, or SACC. Besides suggesting ways to improve the sports program and facilities, SAAC also coordinates community service within the athletic department.
Throughout her time with SAAC, Lawrence helped raise funds for a special needs classroom in Woonsocket and used the money to buy Christmas presents for the students.
SAAC members also visited the classroom to read with the students and worked with them in the gym to promote fitness and sportsmanship.
“You could tell that the kids looked up to us, and it was great to see them excited for their gifts and excited to read with us,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence said her extracurricular activities improved her college experience. She will continue to play soccer at the College of Saint Rose, which is a Division II school.
“I think that what makes it better is getting involved, whether in a club or athletics,” she said.
Her eventual goal as a veterinarian is to specialize in large animals, such as sheep, cows and goats. Her interest in working with animals goes back to her childhood, growing up on her family’s farm in Foster with goats and quail, which she still helps to breed, as well as chickens, dogs and cats. She also worked at a local veterinary clinic.
Although CCRI has no veterinary courses, Lawrence took as many science classes as she could. Her favorite was Chemistry I with Professor Emanuel Terezakis. “It was a really hard course,” she said. “He set really high standards for us but I think I learned a lot.”
Lawrence said her overall CCRI experience was the same way. “You can just tell that the people here really want you to succeed,” she said.