By Casey Lokken-Baker
This past December, over 600 graduates attended MSU’s 2014 Fall Commencement Ceremony. Over the dull roar of cheers, shrieks, claps, and the occasional cowbell, one by one each student was called by name to cross the stage and shake hands with MSU president Waded Cruzado.
The 600 or so students that were seated on the main level of the fieldhouse represented only about half of the total number of Fall graduates, and beneath each and every one of those mortarboards was a story of success in the face of personal sacrifice. One of those students was Nina Erickson, a student-athlete at MSU. The following is an interview regarding the challenges of her academic journey at MSU:
Casey: Congrats on your graduation from MSU, Nina! What do you have planned next?
Nina: Thank you! Next I’m planning on a month-long trip to Argentina and Antarctica! I’ve been to six continents and want to make it to my seventh before starting a job in the real world.
Casey: And what degree did you receive?
Nina: I received a degree in the Liberal Studies department under the Global Multicultural Studies option. I also received a minor in Japanese.
Casey: Can you tell us a little about yourself and the MSU Dance Team?
Nina: The MSU Dance Team was definitely the highlight of my MSU college career. I joined back in 2009, took a break to teach dance and moved to Japan for a year, then came back a couple years ago. I love how supportive MSU Athletics is of their Spirit Squad. Many other schools only have clubs for students to dance in, but it is so great that MSU considers us athletes. I loved performing at all of our home games and being a part of such a great atmosphere. I was lucky enough to be the Senior Captain of the MSU Dance Team this year. It took more time and some additional effort, but the girls in the team were always very supportive and we worked together very well. I’m going to miss being a part of such an awesome team and having the opportunity to dance so much.
Casey: What can you tell us about the challenges of being a student-athlete at MSU?
Nina: The biggest challenge of being a student-athlete was the time commitment. I worked the first four years of college, and that paired with school and dance was overwhelming sometimes. There were many nights I only had two hours of sleep. This last semester I had saved up enough money to not work and focus on dance and school. Another challenge about the Spirit Squad is how long our season is. While most sports only have one season, we have all year. We dance and cheer at basketball, football, and volleyball, so we continue to have practices and performances for nearly all of the school year.
Casey: What was the best thing you took away from being a student-athlete?
Nina: The best things I took away from being a student-athlete were time-management, new relationships, and commitment. I constantly had to juggle my time and know when to do homework. I met so many people through athletics that helped me thrive as a student and a productive adult. Also, the commitment that being a student-athlete takes is something that will always stay with me. There were times that I wanted to quit or take the easier path, but being a student-athlete meant sticking with my commitment to myself and my team.
Casey: Thank you for your time, Nina! Congratulations!
Nina: Thank you!