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University Honors Program

On and Off the Field

By Kaitlin Lewis

Each year, the University of Dayton Office of Academic Services for Student-Athletes (OASSA) hosts the scholar-athlete awards reception to recognize outstanding student-athletes for their academic achievements. This February senior Honors students Emily Jones (women’s soccer) and Tyler Jones (baseball), were awarded the most prestigious honor at the reception, the Presidential Scholar-Athlete honor. The Presidential Scholar-Athlete is presented to one male and one female athlete each year who show excellence in academics, leadership and service within the UD community. In light of being given this award, as well as approaching graduation this coming May, Emily and Tyler took time to reflect on everything their times at UD has given them - both on and off the field.

Emily Jones

Emily not only dedicated four years to the soccer field but received several academic-based awards during her time here. Balancing a full-time athletic and student schedule isn’t a natural skill, but Emily has learned a few ways to bring in “a level of focus that is required to be an elite student-athlete.”

“My best ‘trick’ is to schedule everything on my Google Calendar and make a daily to-do list,” Jones said. “I allot time for meals, ice baths, and self-care along with meetings and homework. At the end of every week, I also make a ‘to-done’ list of everything that I completed because it’s important to recognize the work that you put in!”

Emily was involved beyond her normal class schedule with the Honors Program. Starting in August 2017, Emily worked in a biochemistry lab thanks to her scholarship from the Clare Boothe Luce (CBL) Program, a national organization that recognizes and promotes women interested in pursuing research within STEM fields. Emily spent two years on her project, and her research will become her Honors thesis this spring, meaning she will receive an Honors with Distinction diploma in May.

“I have really enjoyed the group of people that I’ve gotten to bond with through CBL,” Emily said. “When we stayed over the summer of 2018, we did a lot of activities with the BSTI members and those friendships have only grown since then. We also got to work with Dr. Nancy Miller and Laura Cotten (Howell) for a lot of our programs and both have been invaluable to my development.”

Looking beyond May, Emily is currently waiting to hear back about a Fulbright Scholarship research grant, which would allow her to conduct research for a year in Gothenburg, Sweden. If she is not a finalist for the Fulbright Scholarship, Emily hopes to pursue a career in research, ideally involving infectious diseases and epidemiology. The UHP has given Emily chances to explore so many post-graduation opportunities, and that combined with lessons learned through soccer has set her up for success in her future. 

“College soccer showed me how to fall in love with my dreams, no matter how much they scare me,” Jones said. “Especially in the last couple of years, soccer taught me that confidence is earned through hard work and dedication. All of this, and more, are lessons that I will take with me when I leave UD.”

Tyler Jones

To receive the Presidential Scholar-Athlete Award meant something extra special for Tyler after he got to witness a close mentor of his, Mitch Coughlin, receive the same award during Tyler’s freshman year. 

“We come from the same hometown of Bellefontaine,” Jones said “My dad taught Mitch in high school, and his work ethic and commitment to baseball and academics had a big impact on my young college journey. To win this award was a testament to the amazing support system I’ve had here at UD, starting with my family, but also including my coaches, teammates and professors.”

This past summer 2019, Tyler had the opportunity to intern for 10 weeks in Washington, D.C., through the UHP’s DC Flyer program. Tyler worked in Congressman Michael Turner’s office and mainly assisted with research and constituent writing. Tyler has kept in contact with friends he made over the summer who work in Congressman Turner’s office and is currently working on the congressman’s reelection campaign. After graduation, Tyler hopes to move back to Washington, D.C., to work on Capitol Hill full-time and maybe even continue in Turner’s office.

“That aspiration is thanks to the Honors Program and DC Flyers program that provided me with an eye-opening experience,” Tyler said. “As a DC Flyer, UD’s Honors Program connected me with alumni on the Hill that work in various offices and grew my network of professional contacts. One of those contacts might be able to connect me with a job opportunity and that would not have been possible without the Honors Program.”

Tyler’s four years at UD have set him up for great success for post-graduation, including his time as a student-athlete. But beyond the support he has received in college, family support has played an almost bigger role in his life. For Tyler, the game of baseball is about family and tradition. 

“Baseball has also been a bonding sport for my family and me,” he said. “The memories we have made across the country through baseball are ones that I will always cherish and we will talk about them for years to come. I cannot express how much those times mean to me, how much they will be missed, and how grateful I am to have shared these four years with my family.”

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