WCSU student-athletes dedicated to top performance

DANBURY, CONN. — Whether they’re on the field or in the classroom, there are many students at Western Connecticut State University who are at the top of their game and 16 of those students are members of the university’s esteemed Honors Program.

WCSU freshman Karissa Smith, named this season as Little East Conference Rookie of the Week, plays on the university volleyball team and maintains a strong GPA as a member of the Honors Program.

“I think all of our student athletes do an amazing job. To be able to balance the demands of a competitive college athletics schedule that includes practices, team meetings, travel, competition dates and community service with a challenging academic course load is extremely difficult,” said Don Ferguson, who coaches Smith and the WCSU volleyball team. “Many of the student athletes here at Western bring with them a history of time management and success in the classroom, while many others are experiencing this intensity for the first time. To be successful at both, you must be a person who values both academics and athletics and understand that you have to work hard in order to achieve success in either. “

The other Honors Program student-athletes are: Kristy Trotta (field hockey), Danbury; Melissa DiNino (basketball), Waterbury; Thea Martin (soccer), New Fairfield; Alexandrea Sabith (softball), Meriden; Lydia Walter (softball), East Haddam; Jennifer Hogan (volleyball), Franklin Square, N.Y.; Cady Cordes (volleyball), Nevada; Path Bhavsar (tennis), Danbury; Karen Velez (tennis), Danbury; Katherine Robison (swimming/diving), Wallingford; Brennan Diaz (football), Oxford; Michael French (rugby), Middlefield; Andres Jimenez-Frank (soccer), Naugatuck; Nicole Mair (rugby), Milford; and Meaghan Gustafson (soccer), Newington.

“In my own experience, I find that those student athletes who work hard in the classroom are the same ones who will be willing to work hard on the court,” Ferguson said. “These students also have excellent priorities in place when they arrive on campus. It helps create a culture and atmosphere where academic achievements are valued as much as athletic success.”

In 1987, the Honors Program at Western was founded to foster and nurture academic excellence among outstanding students in all four schools of the university. It is built on the fundamental assumption that knowledge is an open set of questions and ideas to be explored, rather than a closed set of facts to be memorized.

The Honors Program is designed to expose students to fundamental modes of inquiry found in various academic fields, and to illustrate the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to exploring a topic or issue.

The program has two pathways: a complete program open to first-year students and first-semester sophomores, and a one-year program (or associate option) available to juniors and seniors.

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.


Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

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