In a word, these students were fast. Football stand-out Caleb Farabi earned All-American honors twice. Vanessa Lee was a three-time national champion in track and field distance running. But it was their performance as students, paired with their accomplishments as athletes, that set Farabi and Lee apart from thousands of others across the nation.
This past summer, Farabi and Lee were recognized as the top student athletes in the MIAA. It was the first time in the 16-year history of the award that two students from the same university were selected. Now graduates of PSU, Farabi and Lee recognize that their experiences and hard work at PSU put them on a path that forever changed their lives.
"PSU gave me the confidence to follow my dreams," Lee said. "Through encouragement from coaches and teachers, I reached goals I never imagined before starting college. It taught me that I can do anything if I work hard and stay focused," said Lee, who is currently a medical student at the University of Missouri in Columbia. She hopes eventually to work with athletes as an orthopedic surgeon or a sports medicine doctor.
Farabi, a Pittsburg native, is a sales manager for the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company in Pittsburg. He said his Pitt State experience prepared him well for the business world.
"Pitt State prepared me for my job by forcing me to learn all of the attributes that I learned," Farabi said, "Things like being punctual, determination, studying, learning, hard work, and effort. The word that has stuck with me since one of my first business classes and first practice is efficiency."
Lee and Farabi gave credit to their respective academic departments for preparing them well.
"The pre-med program is great. They have a cadaver lab for anatomy and a free clinic run by premeds, so having those experiences was a huge benefit," Lee said. "My classmates in med-school are from all over the country, even Ivy league schools, yet none of their undergrad schools had free clinics and very few had the opportunity to learn human dissection in a cadaver lab."
"Pitt State's business department is accredited and played a large part in finalizing my decision for my major," Farabi said. "All of the professors I had used real-life experiences in their classroom lessons. They applied business theories to past and possible future experiences."
Both said that although being a student athlete was like having two full-time jobs, the hard work and long hours paid off.
"You have to realize that you are a student-athlete, not an athlete-student," Farabi said. "Football was four and a half years of my life at PSU, my education will last for a lifetime."
Lee added that the support she received from her professors helped her succeed both athletically and academically.
"My professors taught me to have confidence in myself by pushing me in the classroom and supporting my pursuits outside the classroom," Lee said. "It was inspiring to have teachers that cared so much about their students."