Each year, the Elite Athlete Program strives to push its student athletes to produce outstanding results both in and out of the sporting arena. 2015 was arguably one of the best years yet for the program with our athletes rising to incredible heights to fulfil their academic and sporting goals. The Elite Athlete Program prides itself on the success of its athletes and we spend an enormous amount of time assisting them to achieve a steady balance between both sport and study. We want our athletes to be leaders both on and off the field and assisting them with their studies at The University of Sydney means that when it’s time to step away from their sporting career, they’ve got a world class tertiary education in conjunction with invaluable industry connections to help them build a successful career. Our student athletes are simply the best and 2015 certainly didn’t disappoint with 53 athletes completing their studies. Below is a snapshot of a few of our graduating athletes from 2015 and their plans for 2016 and beyond.

Alix Kennedy

Last week I heard the words “pens down” for the final time! It’s been six intense but wonderful years studying a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) and Laws. I was surprisingly nostalgic that same afternoon as I looked back on what I would miss most about university – the Elite Athlete Program and all of its incredible people! The Elite Athlete Program was the reason that Sydney University was the perfect choice of University for me. From the very start of my degree back in 2010, the financial assistance, tutoring, sports psychology and all round support from the Elite Athlete Program has been one of the main reasons I have successfully balanced two degrees and two sports.

My sporting highlight during this time was competing in both Russia and Korea in the 2013 and 2015 World University Games for athletics, two very different but memorable experiences. I was also very honoured to Captain the Division 1 Sydney University Netball team in the NSW Waratah Cup in 2012.

I have always known that my time at University would be the best opportunity to pursue my sporting ambitions to the fullest, so as I finish this chapter of my life I am now shifting my focus to my goals in my corporate career. I will finally be joining the full-time working world next year as a graduate analyst for an investment bank. But not until I go on one last round-the-world trip!

Benn Melrose

I began as a member of the Elite Athlete Program in 2011 studying a Combined Bachelor of Laws and Commerce majoring in Finance and have had an amazing 5 years in the program. I have always stood by the view that people always shape your experiences and in reflecting on my time in the program it is not the sandstone walls of the University I will miss but the amazing people I have met throughout the journey that have defined it. Throughout my studies I have been taught by High Court Judges, mentored by leading academics and most importantly had the pleasure of studying and making lifelong friendships with students and athletes who will be the leaders of tomorrow.

However, the life of student athlete does pose many challenges. The continuous pressure to perform both academically and on the sporting field requires one to have a fantastic support network and I think I can say with some conviction that I could not have asked for a better support network than the Elite Athlete Program. They have provided me many fantastic resources ranging from academic tutors to dieticians and even psychologists, all of which have enabled me to perform at my best both academically and athletically and I am forever grateful.

In terms of my next step, I have recently accepted a summer internship at Macquarie Bank as a member of their mergers and acquisitions advisory team which I am very much looking forward to and intend to continue playing at Sydney University Football Club.

Sasha Ryan

I have really enjoyed the experience of studying a Bachelor of Diagnostic Radiography and living on campus at Sydney University. 

Having moved from interstate to pursue my goals in sailing, the staff at the Elite Athlete Program have been a great support in many ways.  In particular, they assisted me in liaising with lecturers and course coordinators regarding my timetable and course practicum requirements.  I spend a lot of time competing overseas and I don’t think I could have made it through my full time course without their support.

I also really appreciated meeting athletes from other sports through the Elite Athlete Program, participating in the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy activities, and the opportunity to represent Sydney University in sailing at home and overseas.  

I continue to focus on my goal of representing Australia in the Women’s 470 sailing at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Nicholas Hudson

From 2003 to 2015 I studied a Bachelor of Science and a Masters of Project Management all under the EAP while I was rowing at the elite level. As an undergraduate, the EAP provided vital support to allow tutoring, coordination with the faculty and financial support while pursuing my rowing endeavours. As a Masters student I was studying from interstate and the EAP provided support to coordinate my studies to fit with a long term plan and my existing career in project management in the construction industry. Without this support I would not have been able to successfully manage the balance between the demands of elite rowing and academic studies. As an SUSF EAP member, I competed at numerous U23 and Open World Championships and World Cups and was reserve at the 2012 Olympic Games. I was captain of SUBC for 3 years and have proudly represented NSW at the interstate regatta as a Kings Cup member.

In 2015 I retired from competition after 16 years as an elite athlete. I also graduated from my Masters of Project Management in the same year. Completing my Masters helped my career substantially. I am now the Director of City to the Lake for the ACT Land Development Agency: a project worth over $1 billion with a timeframe in excess of 20 years. I would encourage anyone who wants to follow their dreams of achievements in sport to combine it with what Sydney University offers. That way you’ll set yourself up for life!