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Melissa Hawkins-Lacrosse

Posted by on Tuesday, November 10, 2020 in Student-Athletes of the Month.

Melissa Hawkins
Major: Special Education

Why did you choose to attend Vanderbilt?

I have always wanted to play lacrosse at the Division 1 level and continue my passion in the field of Special Education, teaching individuals with severe and multiple disabilities. Vanderbilt has given me this incredible opportunity to balance both throughout my career. Other than that, the women’s lacrosse team itself outshined many other schools in terms of team culture, coaching staff, and all the opportunities it had to give to us as athletes.

What are your career goals?

I would like to be a classroom teacher for individuals with severe and multiple disabilities. I am currently trying to pursue my Master’s degree at Vanderbilt in the Special Education Department to get my Teaching Individuals with Visual Impairment certification.  After getting my Master’s degree, I could assist individuals both with disabilities and with reading Braille, sign language, and adapting classroom materials/instruction to better their learning. I would also like to get a certification in Teaching Students with Severe and Multiple Disabilities. I am working towards doing the Applied Behavior Analysis Master’s program, which would lead me to getting my Board Certified Behavior Analyst certification. This involves a professional who studies the behavior of children and adults with disabilities and creates plans to improve or change problematic behaviors into appropriate behaviors.

What does it take to be academically successful at Vanderbilt?

To be academically successful at Vanderbilt, it definitely takes time management skills, organization, and being able to focus on assignments while completing them on time. Everyone has their own way of being successful, and I love learning from my teammates and classmates about things that have worked for them in order incorporate them into my routine. These are the key components of my academic success the past four years.

How do you manage your demanding schedule?

Managing my demanding schedule has not been easy the past four years because I am the first student-athlete to be a part of the Special Education program here. However, I have had incredible support from both my professors/advisor and my coaching staff/athletics to come together each year and help make balancing both playing lacrosse and completing my major happen. To stay organized though, I always use my agenda and calendar to write all my assignments and tests down in the beginning of the semester so I know what I should be completing each week. But as a student-athlete, you really have to give yourself a couple hours each day to do things outside of lacrosse and school because we are so focused on both of those and sometimes forget to do other things.

What is your ritual before taking a test?

Before taking a test, I normally make sure to eat a good meal because I am someone who truly gets “hangry” and it really can distract me and not allow me to focus. Other than that, I make sure I review my study materials and have all my items with me whether that is pencils, pens, or my computer, if the test is online. Depending on my schedule, I make sure to show up to class at least 10 minutes early to look over my materials one last time.

Favorite quote?

“Each new day is an opportunity to start afresh, to see each new day as an opportunity to embrace life’s events not fear what lies ahead. To start out your day on a positive note is to set the welcoming tone for the rest of the day” – Byron Pulsifer