By Vanessa Broadbent (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: April 8, 2015

Every student understands the pressure that comes with full-time studies. Throw a part-time job in the mix and things get crazy. Throw athletics on top of all that, and you may have a recipe for a nervous breakdown.

But some students do well under such pressure. Aaron Pauls (men’s golf), Joel Kleingeltink (men’s volleyball), and Michelle Zygmunt (women’s volleyball) have been awarded the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Academic All-Canadian honours.

This award not only requires recipients to be all-stars in their conference, but maintain a GPA above 3.5.

The award recognizes students for their hard work through the season, and Zygmunt appreciates the acknowledgement.

“My grades are really important to me,” she said. “The fact that I’ve been able to keep them up while pursuing a really high level of athletics, it’s really rewarding and it’s nice to be acknowledged for that.”

Zygmunt, who not only studies kinesiology and philosophy at UFV but architecture and building engineering BCIT as well, explained her secret to balancing such a hectic schedule.

“When you know you only have a couple hours a day, you tend to put your all into it and make the most of that time because you don’t have a lot and you don’t want to waste it.”

Kleingeltink has a similar strategy. “You just find a way to make it work, you find a way to do it,” he said. “We’re all students — we have those late nights, those long stressful weeks — but you just have to find time to get things done.”

It’s hard to stay motivated as a student, and Zygmunt thinks the award might help.

“Sometimes it’s hard to go 100 per cent all the time, and getting awards like this is a reminder that it’s worth it and it will be beneficial in the long run,” she said.

Kleingeltink can also see the award being an inspiration to other students who struggle to maintain both high academic and athletic achievement.

“I know there’s so much more I can do, it sets a nice bar for myself … to achieve things like that, and hopefully motivate others to do the same thing,” he said.