Graduating Student-Athlete a Leader On and Off the Field

By Tom McLaughlin

Aubrey Andrews has always been up for a challenge.

As then-captain of the Rutgers University–Camden women’s soccer team, the senior nursing major took ownership of her role as a leader, mentor, and source of encouragement to her fellow athletes – especially those just beginning their college journeys.

And so it was Andrews who – inspired by the actions of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team – stood front and center with her teammates alongside U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross on “Equal Pay Day” last April and spoke out in support of a bill demanding equality of women in the workplace.

“My teammates and I were able to use sports as a platform for positive change,” says the Haddon Heights resident, who will graduate from the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden on May 18 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

For student-athletes like Andrews, sports are much more than a game. Rather, they are physical and mental quests that can help make you “a better person and can be a launching pad to make a difference,” she explains.

Recognized for her performance on the field as well as in the classroom, Andrews was named the Rutgers–Camden recipient of the Woman of the Year by the New Jersey Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.

“I have always striven to balance athletics, scholastics, and community involvement – these are the three pillars in my life that give me purpose,” says Andrews, who was also named MVP of the Rutgers–Camden women’s soccer team in 2016.

For as long as she can remember, she recalls, sports have always been an integral part of her life. But rather than hinder her studies, she says, participating in athletics has taught her the structure and discipline needed to succeed at anything she put her mind to.

“Being an athlete takes away your ‘free time,’ but it also forces you to get your work done and not procrastinate,” says Andrews, who starred in soccer, as well as outdoor and indoor track, at Haddon Heights High School. “Sports has always helped keep me on pace with my scholastics.”

Over the course of her career, Andrews learned to appreciate the science of maintaining proper health in order to perform at peak performance and maximize one’s athletic potential. On the flipside, however, she was also often reminded of the importance of proper medical care as she dealt with her fair share of injuries. Most recently, she suffered a serious injury playing indoor, coed soccer, breaking several bones in her ankle, dislocating it, and tearing virtually all the ligaments around the joint.

It was trying times like these that inspired Andrews to be in the position to help others and pursue a career in nursing.

“These experiences reminded of the importance of being able to encourage and reassure people at their most vulnerable, and how important it is to brighten their day – it is a gift to them,” she says. “I look forward to having the pleasure of being able to do that for the rest of my career.”

Since January 2016, Andrews has served as a nursing associate on the intensive nursing care unit/medical-surgical unit floor at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. Doing everything from “assisting nurses, to bathing patients, to collecting vitals and blood sugars,” she learned about the practical aspects of patient care, as well as the importance of developing proper interpersonal skills to meet each individual patient’s needs, and the need to be a team player on her floor.

Andrews, who also gained clinical experience at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, credits her clinicals and time working at Cooper for helping her to focus on a career in critical-care nursing.

”It requires your skills to be top-notch and your mind to be able to process quickly what needs to be done; I enjoy the prospect of this challenge,” she says.

True to form, Andrews also hasn’t lost sight of how she might one day use her nursing degree to better her community, whether it’s locally or on a global scale.

“It’s my dream to be able to travel while using my nursing degree, in order to assist people who are less fortunate and in need of even the most basic care,” she says.

Regardless of the challenges that lie ahead for Andrews, no doubt when the time comes, it will be “game on.”

Posted in: Student Achievement

Comments are closed.