Last fall, I had the opportunity to attend the Association of Applied Sport Psychology Annual Conference via virtual presentation. The College of Natural Resources provided me the resources to be able to afford such an experience and I am grateful. I am currently a senior in Sport Management with a minor in Psychology and I have spent the past year trying to experiment with topics that could be worth earning a Master’s degree in. I found it best to marry my intersecting interests and pursue an academic career in sports psychology. The AASP conference granted me the space and materials to learn about current research, meet with leaders of the field, and explore what the field has to offer.

As a senior anticipating graduation and eventual graduate school, I thought the standard question of, What’s next? At this point in life, it’s no longer a simple decision of which university to attend. Decisions have to be made such as if I will go directly into higher education or if I will work in a career for sometime before graduate school. When searching for graduate programs, I have to be very intentional in searching for the right fit based on geography, my academic and career goals, as well my personal priorities, which is a tall task for a young adult. I want to be near my family and boyfriend but also focus on my career pursuits. These are hard and vulnerable factors of life that are rarely talked about in academia but take time, effort, and emotion to dissect.

The AASP offered a panel entitled How Does She Do It, which was a panel discussion of female sport psychology professionals that shared their academic and personal journeys through their degrees and family life. I was impressed by the openness and candor of the professionals, while also feeling relief. Living life while also still pursuing academia is a challenge that demands mastery of balance, grace, and compromise. I deeply resonated with the stories shared by the Doctors. Listening to professionals be honest and vulnerable about their experience made me feel like I was not alone in this challenge and that asking for help is okay. With the pressures and competition of higher education, it is easy to forget to breathe when there is still so much left on the to do list.

The panel was the most impactful part of the conference for me. While producing excellent research and content is important, it is even more important to also prioritize restoration and personal time. It is easy, especially for me, to get lost in the grind of it all. I am comforted knowing that I will be entering a field that provides a supportive network across all universities that come together for events such as these to discuss what is real and important. I am beyond thankful for the experience I was able to have thanks to the CNR Enrichment Fund.