One of three seniors on last year's women's lacrosse team, Valerie Quinlan (Norwood, Mass.) made the decision to return to Babson and use her final year of eligibility while pursuing a Master of Science in Finance degree in 2020-21. She started classes just over two weeks ago and is slated to wrap-up her post-graduate work in May 2021.
If you had told me at the beginning of the spring 2020 semester that I would be coming back to Babson as a graduate student, I probably would not have believed you. No one could have ever predicted how everything was going to play out. I always knew I would go back to school in some capacity, but never would have imagined this soon. Over the last four years, Babson has challenged me in so many different ways both academically and athletically. It has truly shown me how to get out of my comfort zones and push my limits to be the most successful person I can be. After concentrating in finance and analytics in undergrad, I decided I wanted to further my education in finance.
Having not only the lacrosse season end but also my final semester on campus be cut far too short left so much uncertainty about pretty much everything. Up to that point, I hadn't yet been successful in my job search and it seemed like nothing good was going to come out of the pandemic. For a while, it seemed like the world was ending and we were never going to leave our houses again. However, things finally started to change once I knew more about the post-graduate opportunities at Babson. After thinking it over and discussing applying with my family and coaches, it seemed like a no-brainer and a worthwhile investment. Why wouldn't I want to come back to the place that has given me a great education, countless opportunities, and some of my best friends? Throughout my four years, I've been taught the concept of entrepreneurial thinking. Something our professors stressed the importance of was the concept of pivoting. When one opportunity didn't work out, you had to adjust and make something happen given your resources and knowledge. With everything that has happened, the spring felt like one giant pivot.
The way lacrosse was just taken away really showed a lot of my peers and I just how quickly things could change. Back in March, things were changing literally by the minute. One second there was hope, the next was absolute heartbreak. There was so much unfinished business between the semester and lacrosse. These were my last two months on a campus filled with so many memories. We were off to such a strong start with our small but mighty team and I know that we would have seen a ton of success if the season had played out accordingly.
Once I made the decision to apply to grad school, I knew I had to look at it from a slightly different perspective. Yes, I had been granted another year of eligibility from the NCAA, but that wasn't my only reason to go and apply to school. Lacrosse is one of the amazing benefits to enhance the experience of my education. I know my college career won't last forever, but having the chance to hopefully finish it properly alongside my teammates is something I don't think I would have gotten anywhere else. Lacrosse has been a part of my life as long as I can remember, and it didn't feel right ending the way it had. In the future, the opportunity to play will not be something to take for granted, and I'll cherish every second we are able to spend on the field this year.