This story was featured in the Ohio Athletic Conference newsletter for Sofey Fugate's selection as the OAC Scholar Athlete of the Month for March 2016.
For any student-athlete, receiving a diverse and challenging educational experience that will prepare them for their future is a top priority. Having a stellar career in their sport is a bonus. For Heidelberg University tennis player Sofey Fugate, both of those have occurred during her time as a Student Prince. From time studying abroad in Spain, to working towards a master's degree, to also performing at an All-Ohio Athletic Conference level on the tennis courts, she has certainly had a complete experience as an NCAA Division III student-athlete.
After deciding to attend Heidelberg out of Lakota East High School in Cincinnati, Fugate chose to major in Psychology with a minor in Spanish. That minor turned out to play a major role in her education when she elected to spend the summer of 2014 studying abroad in Seville, Spain. Despite her having studied the language, there was still a major language barrier to overcome.
"I lived with a host family that I just could not communicate with, even though I had taken Spanish for seven or eight years at that point," said Fugate. "Going through that really improved my communication skills by experiencing all of those difficult situations. When I got back here it made communicating much easier since I was able to look at things from a different perspective."
Fugate was able to complete her undergraduate education in just three years, but decided to stick around for one more year in Tiffin when she earned a position as a graduate assistant for the Heidelberg School of Business. Along with that position she is pursuing an MBA with an expected completion date in the summer.
Balancing that graduate-level education with a job and tennis is something most student-athletes don't have to deal with, but Fugate has been more than capable of handling the challenge.
"Adding the job was a little difficult at first, but I just work in the morning, go to tennis in the afternoon, and then go to class at night," said Fugate. "Time management was something I was forced to learn my freshman year and now I just have to be prepared for 17-hour days sometimes."
Despite the level of difficulty of Fugate's education and work, she has been very successful on the tennis courts for Heidelberg. She is a three-time 2nd team All-OAC honoree with one season left to play and also earned Academic All-OAC recognition last spring.
With a variety of experiences under her belt to go along with her education, Fugate is confident that this will lead to a career of purpose with distinction.
"I don't think I would have had the opportunity to be this well-rounded somewhere else," said Fugate. I can't decide whether I want to work for a business or in higher education, but I've really enjoyed my experiences here. Either way, I'm sure I'll be able to find a job I'll enjoy."