Senior year is always bittersweet.
It is especially so for Alison Line, Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) student, volleyball player, and Illinois State University Bone Scholar.
“Not many schools will allow you to play a sport and also pursue nursing. I knew I wanted to do both, and everyone at ISU Volleyball and Mennonite College of Nursing was not only willing to work with me, but they were also dedicated to helping me succeed.”
Originally from the Indianapolis area, Ali is the oldest of four. Her mom was a pediatric nurse at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis. Ali grew up hearing stories about life as a nurse and eventually found herself following her mother’s example.
“I never planned on following in her footsteps, but I always liked the medical field,” she said. “So, I applied for nursing school.”
Mennonite College of Nursing’s prestigious undergraduate nursing program is known to be demanding. As a student-athlete, Ali’s experience was even more so than normal.
“The hardest piece of being a student-athlete and a nursing student is just plain lack of time,” she said. “Both require a lot of travel – nursing for clinical and volleyball for games. Monday through Friday, I wake up at 5 a.m. or earlier. I have a workout, then class, back to practice, back to class, done at dinnertime. Or I wake up, travel for clinical, spend a full day working at my clinical site, and go to practice when I get back.”
Many students would struggle under that kind of pressure, but Ali does not believe in doing things halfway.
“I worked hard to stay on top of class while giving everything I have to the volleyball team. Being a Captain, I have to do my best for them,” she said. “So I met with professors early on and they all worked together to find a way to make my volleyball schedule work with class. I was on one email chain where several faculty members were working together to find a lab I could attend that week. It was amazing how many people were willing to work together to support me in that situation.”
Even with support for both sides, the balancing act is not easy.
“Becky LaMont, MCN’s success plan coordinator, and I connected in health assessment lab. I remember her saying, ‘I understand you’re super overwhelmed right now. We’re going to deal with it – we’re going to work with it and just figure it out. We’re going to make it work.’ She was so encouraging and ended up coming to a match to show her support. It was super fun to see her up in the stands,” Line said.
And beyond everything else, that is what makes Illinois State University and Mennonite College of Nursing special – that sense of family and support.
“Dean Neubrander came to several matches and has been really huge in my success here. So many people worked together to help me feel comfortable in the nursing program and as a volleyball player.” Ali laughs, “I thought I knew what I was getting into, but I did not. But, we’re making it work.”
And so far, Ali has not just made it work – she is excelling. Recently named an Illinois State University Bone Scholar, the designation is the highest honor an Illinois State University undergraduate student can receive and is bestowed upon students who demonstrate excellent academic achievement, leadership, campus and community engagement, and outstanding character.
Ali Line is humble about her achievements. When asked her advice for other student-athletes, her answer is simple.
“You just have to be able to prioritize and know you might not have the same lifestyle as other college students. But, that’s the beauty of it too. If it is what you really want to do, it is 100 percent worth it.”
This story was originally printed as part of the 2017-2018 issue of The Flame Magazine.
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