BUENA VISTA, Va. — Not only is Sydney Kuhni-Liles an invaluable member of the Southern Virginia women's soccer team, the junior forward has also earned Provost's List honors in all four of her semesters as a Knight, and President's List honors in all but one. The Nephi, Utah native is one of many Southern Virginia student-athletes to identify a mentor among the faculty, finding biology professor, Dr. Jared Lee, to be of great help as she navigates her busy schedule. We asked both Sydney and Dr. Lee how they have benefited from each other, and how other student-athletes can do the same.
In what ways has Dr. Lee influenced and helped you at Southern Virginia?
Sydney: "Dr. Lee's influence has helped me be a better learner. He taught concepts and expected students to have a great enough understanding that they could apply to the material. His courses required time and a lot of work to grasp the information. As a result, I learned how to learn and what learning style works best for me which has been foundational in my learning since."
What are your thoughts on being able to mentor such a bright student in Sydney?
Dr. Lee: "Mentoring Sydney is a delight, because she grasps basic concepts quickly and is ready for more complex ideas and topics. Her questions naturally have led to more in-depth discussions both in class and one-on-one. She is certainly a student I have not worried about and am excited to see her progress. She has potential to do great things and help many people."
Are there any specific instances where Dr. Lee really helped you or taught you an important lesson?
Sydney: "I was not doing as well as I wanted in Anatomy & Physiology and remember going into Dr. Lee's office looking for help and potentially some extra credit. I do not remember his exact words, but the message I got from the conversation was simply to put in the work to the grade I wanted; there is no shortcut to learning. In this case, that meant doing really well on the remaining coursework. I do remember feeling slightly bummed, but his lesson resonated with me. In the end, I was able to get the grade I wanted."
What attributes do you see in students such as Sydney that help them succeed?
Dr. Lee: "A couple of attributes come to mind, though there are many more. First, she works hard in preparing for exams, which involves spending plenty of time reviewing notes, memorizing, and learning difficult concepts. This kind of hard work may mean sacrificing other leisure activities. Second, Sydney stays organized by knowing when assignments are due and getting them turned in on time, early even. This allows her to manage stress and focus on her athletic pursuits."
You're an excellent student and athlete. How do you successfully balance athletics and academics?
Sydney: "I stick to my academic and athletic schedules and I keep a planner with all my coursework due dates. I try to keep ahead on my assignments by completing them a day or two before it is actually due. Doing so, I have time to get out (or stay in) and take a break from the grind."
What tips would you give to student-athletes who are wanting to do better in their studies?
Dr. Lee: "Prioritize your activities and manage your time. As an athlete you can't afford to waste time. Between your course requirements and practice schedule, athletes are always on the go. When you have time make sure you are focusing on high priority items (studying, homework, etc.). Plan out your day and set reminders on your phone. It is easier to say 'no' to activities that could distract you if you start your day with a plan."