By Adam Zaki
Published: May 17th, 2017
After excelling in both academics and athletics, four Brooklyn College student-athletes—Karen Mak, Samantha Rodriguez, Sayla Flores, and Jasmine Fermin—exemplified success by winning the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars Awards.
In addition to being the catalyst to her team’s offense by dishing sweet passes to teammates, Mak, BC’s starting point guard, has been able to finesse her way through the classroom with high grades and academic honors. Mak’s cumulative GPA of 3.87 combined with almost 10.0 points per game (ppg) and 5.0 assists per game (apg) earned her the award for the second consecutive year. Her intelligence has spilled over from the classroom to the hardwood, where her knowledge of her team’s system and on-the-fly decision-making make up a major portion of her skillset.
Mak is always thinking one step ahead of her opponent, dictating momentum and feeding her teammates. Her athletic ability allows her to guard most opposing players at her position, and her basketball IQ allows her to know when to take a chance to force a turnover and when not to. A junior majoring in Kinesiology, Mak’s drive in the classroom will hopefully spill into her final season as a member of the Bulldogs next year.
Rodriguez has dominated in multiple sports for Brooklyn College while earning herself a cumulative GPA of 3.68 in the process. After defining her legacy as a member of the softball team, Rodriguez suited up as the starting goalie in the fall as a member of the soccer team. With nine shutouts on the season, Rodriguez’s ability to fulfill a new role at such a competitive level paid dividends for her program.
After a five-win season for women’s soccer in 2015, the team earned a trip to the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) Championship match in 2016 with Rodriguez’s arrival and stout play in net. Despite a loss to the College of Staten Island in the final, Rodriguez’s nine saves in the final match allowed the Bulldogs to stay competitive from start to finish. A graduate student in Sports Management, Rodriguez hopes to continue to work around athletics.
A three-time CUNYAC All-Star, Flores led the women’s soccer team for multiple seasons. After earning a cumulative GPA of 3.63, Flores will depart from the program with its highest regards, especially after earning 2013 CUNYAC Championship MVP honors. Representing BC as the quintessential student-athlete, Flores was able to perform at a consistently high level throughout her time as a Bulldog, both on and off the field.
Flores’ consistency paid dividends for her team as a three-year team captain and will undoubtedly pay her dividends later on in life. As a Childhood Education major, her performance on the field and in the classroom defined her work ethic, dedication, and focus on her goals, as well as an ability to function as a teammate.
Fermin will also hang up her Bulldogs uniform this season. As if her cumulative 3.44 GPA wasn’t impressive enough, her 3.75 GPA in the Fall during the season was the most impressive part of her success. Winning the award for the second consecutive year, Fermin will be remembered on the field for her defensive presence, as her ability to keep up with and shut down opponents in the open field allowed her team to compete at its highest level.
An Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Metro Team First All-Star in 2015, Fermin boasts a long list of awards, which complement her academic performance, as the Finance and Business Management major has developed skills on the field that will be beneficial in her career. Showing focus when it matters most, Fermin proved she has no problems balancing a rigorous schedule with time-demanding commitments through her performance as a Bulldog.
For student-athletes, time management is vital for success both during games and in the classroom. With team practices, workouts, events, and meetings, the responsibilities of a sports program are similar to those of a full-time job. By making a dedication to their teammates to compete and perform, these athletes can make that same dedication to their future through academics, which is admirable and motivating for regular students who find that they just don’t have enough time to be the best students they can be.