UHV graduate enjoys accomplishments, moves on to next goals

By by Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Dec. 12, 2012 at 6:12 a.m.
Updated Dec. 13, 2012 at 6:13 a.m.

Graduating in four and one half years, Emily Bergstrom plans on becoming a doctor and will continue her studies after a brief break.

Graduating in four and one half years, Emily Bergstrom plans on becoming a doctor and will continue her studies after a brief break.   Frank Tilley for The Victoria Advocate

On or off the softball field, Emily Bergstrom is the kind of person who pours herself into what she has committed to.

After four and a half years of work, the 22-year-old University of Houston-Victoria student will don a black graduation gown and cross the stage to receive her diploma on Saturday.

"When I sit here and think about it, it's kind of surreal," Bergstrom said.

She came to UHV chasing a dream of playing softball at a college level, but she found a place where she could get an education from an institution small enough that people knew her and the other students, and were invested in making sure the students got the chance to learn.

"It's not your typical college experience. It's a smaller school, and the people who work here care, and they want you to get an education," she said.

Born and raised in El Campo, Bergstrom fell in love with the game of softball when she was 10 years old. She and her father spent hours tossing a ball in the front yard. The pitching skills that would help take UHV's softball team to nationals were crafted in that yard. Bergstrom loved the game, and she dreamed of being a college player one day.

After she had gone as far as she could playing for Hill Junior College for the first two years of school, Bergstrom got the chance to come to UHV and play for their team. She jumped at the chance to continue playing at a school that had the added benefit of being close to her family.

Soon enough, she wasn't just a softball player. Bergstrom was taking a full load of 18 hours of classes when she was elected treasurer of the student government.

Meanwhile, a psychology class snared Bergstrom's interest about the study of the mind. She was already majoring in biology to prepare herself for medical school, but she decided to also major in psychology.

"That was a tough semester," Bergstrom said, remembering. "I definitely had to learn to be self-accountable. You have to find a healthy balance with everything."

But the experience got her ready for her senior year, when she found herself elected president of the student government, in addition to serving as a co-captain for the team, attending to her studies and holding down a part-time job at the university.

"It was a real learning year for me," she said.

She built lasting relationships with her teammates, bonds that helped them power through the days when they were all tired. After years of working for it, she was a college athlete, trading her skill on the pitcher's mound for an education.

"You've worked hard for years, since you were a little girl, and then it pays off. It's a good feeling," she said.

Her goal was to play college softball, but she never lost sight of why she was in school. Her playing allowed her to get through school without taking out any loans, which will help when Bergstrom starts working toward her next goal, becoming a doctor.

"I've never seen myself doing anything else. I like people and I like helping them and changing the course of life for the better by making them healthy. That's sounds like the ideal life for me," she said.

She's already begun the process of applying to schools and trying to figure out what kind of doctor she might become once she gets through medical school, but all of those concerns will be on hold on Saturday. On that day, she'll simply be focused on what she has accomplished. With her family in the audience, she'll take a moment to enjoy what she has achieved.

"I'm one step closer to my goal. Knowing I've gotten my undergraduate degree will be so exciting," she said.



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