When Penn Athletics meets the School of Nursing
Two fall student-athletes in Nursing have little free time, but definitely appreciate both spheres
October 16, 2013, 8:20 pm · Updated October 17, 2013, 3:04 pm·
Camille Parry and Jillian Kelly share a unique bond.
They’ve never met each other, and it’s possible they never will, but they share a link that almost no other fall athletes at Penn possess.
There are 256 athletes who represent the Red and Blue on a varsity sports team during the fall season, yet Parry and Kelly are two of the select few enrolled in the School of Nursing.
While Parry, a junior on the field hockey team, and Kelly, a freshman on the women’s cross country squad, both love their field of study, they are acutely aware of how complex it is to be both a nurse and a varsity athlete.
“Being a nurse and an athlete is really difficult, but it is a great learning experience for future references,” Parry said. “It’s actually kind of nice to have those two separate spheres because I can talk to different people about different kinds of things.”
“Coming out of high school, every athlete has to learn how to deal with the pressures of balancing academics with the athletic life and your social life,” Kelly said. “I’ve had to turn down social opportunities at times because of practices and studies.”
While most Penn students are accustomed to customizing their academic schedules in whatever manner they want, those in Nursing don’t have that luxury.
“Nursing is definitely very time-consuming,” Parry said. “And our classes are a lot longer than a normal Penn class.”
While few students at Penn have to deal with the demanding schedule that defines varsity athletes, most people also don’t find themselves taking cellular biology, microbiology or biological chemistry classes.
Because of the strict structure of class times in the Nursing School, both Kelly and Parry are consistently pressed for time and often have to adjust their practice schedules around their classes.
“A typical day for me includes running from class to practice, or vice versa,” Parry said. “I’m always on the go immediately once I finish my work.”
Due in large part to the difficult circumstances surrounding the overlap between her class schedule and practice time, Kelly faces various challenges when it comes to interacting with teammates.
“On Tuesdays, I have to miss our workout due to scheduling conflicts,” the rookie from Skillman, N.J., said. “It isn’t all too bad because I have the opportunity to come and run after practice, but there are days when I have to practice alone.
“Luckily, [track and field] coach [Steve] Dolan will wait after the team finishes the workout for me to practice, and he goes out of his way to help me.”
Despite the obstacles that the future nurses face when trying to balance a rigorous academic life with athletics, Kelly and Parry appreciate the opportunity that they have at Penn.
Throughout the recruiting process, it was made clear to both Kelly and Parry that completing a nursing program while simultaneously playing sports would be nearly impossible at all other schools.
“I know at a lot of other colleges that I looked at, schools told me it wouldn’t be possible at all,” Parry said. “Here, Penn has helped me work through my nursing commitment and has made it a very manageable process.”
“I have never considered that athletics and nursing don’t particularly mix, but that’s just the way it is, I guess,” Kelly added.
Through it all, it seems that both Parry and Kelly have found a balance between their tough nursing and athletic schedules.
And that’s all they could ask for. Despite the difficulty they’ve had with the balancing act, both realize that they are better for it at the end of their time here at Penn.
“Being a nurse definitely isn’t easy, but it’s manageable and worth it,” Parry said. “I don’t have a ton of free time ever, but luckily I enjoy both of my commitments.
“And that’s what makes the struggle totally worth it.”
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Parry and Kelly are the only two Nursing student-athletes during the fall season. This is incorrect.