Engineering is a tough curriculum that demands discipline, hard work, and time, lots of time, for a student to succeed. Combining those studies with participation in college-level, championship-caliber athletics makes for an even tougher challenge.
But UH College of Engineering students thrive, even excel, in this demanding environment, and civil engineering major Shelly Kim is one of them.
Shelly's been juggling study and sports since high school. She was a prep standout at the Kamehameha Schools, where she lettered for four years in basketball and three years in volleyball, helping her Warrior team to one state roundball championship and two crowns in volleyball.
Following graduation, she attended Tennessee State University, majoring in engineering and playing on the varsity volleyball team. But home beckoned after two years, and Shelly transferred to the University of Hawaii and also turned out for the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team.
She made the team, but found her school and sports schedule to be daunting, particularly for a perennial championship contender like the UH Rainbow Wahine.
"Juggling volleyball and school wasn't easy," recalls Shelly, who was a defensive specialist for Dave Shoji's 1998 and 1999 squads alongside such teammates as Heather Bowen, Heidi Illustre, and Veronica Lima.
"Luckily, I had dealt with this in high school. During high school, I lived in Kapolei, so I would leave the house when it was dark outside, and I would get home when it was dark. I just remember staying up to the late hours of the night to finish my homework because I pretty much wouldn't start it till 8:00 p.m., after I got home from practice. Doing this through high school taught me to manage my time wisely during the day wisely.
"This helped a lot in college because playing sports in college is like a full-time job. Three to five hours a day are dedicated to volleyball, and at least three to five hours a night are dedicated to studies. After I included the time for actually going to class, my day was gone."
Shelly, who is completing her degree requirements, credits her discipline with enabling her to meet the expectations of both endeavors.
"The only way I got through it is through having great discipline. School and sports come way before a social life. I don't think athletics gave me an edge on my studies. The only edge athletics may have given me is that I could sign up for the classes I needed before anyone else."
"When you playing for a school like UH, road trips mean a mandatory five-hour flight and missing at least two days of classes. Missing a lot of classes made it really hard to learn, especially in the field of engineering. I almost had to teach myself by reading the textbook and doing the homework without hearing the lectures."
Unlike athletics, Shelly made no special preparations in high school for studying engineering. She said: "I decided to enter the engineering field straight out of high school. I really didn't know what engineering was but I did know that I liked math and science. My counselor in high school suggested engineering so I chose to pursue it.
"In high school, I didn't make any preparations to pursue an engineering degree. If I had, I probably would have taken drafting classes or CAD or something. The only thing I did do was take all my math and physics classes."
Shelly will graduate with a degree in civil engineering in Spring 2001. Following graduation, she will seek her master's degree and then hopes to find employment with a firm in Hawaii.
"I chose of civil engineering because it's very broad and I could learn about a lot of different fields and see which one I liked best."
Despite the pressures and sacrifices of pursuing an engineering degree and participating in athletics, Shelly has no regrets. "The thing I've most enjoyed about my college career is meeting people and making friends. This might even mean making future connections."
She also credits her father with inspiring her to succeed.
"The person that I think who made a real influence on my life is my father. He always taught me that if I did everything to the best of my ability and if I worked hard I could achieve my goals.
"My father never went far in school. All he has is a high school diploma. Just by working hard at what he knows how to do, he has a good career as a stevedore, and he has supported my family so that we live a very comfortable life."
"I hope to do the same for my family some day."
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