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Junior excels in classroom as well as on soccer field

Katy Van Lieshout is the top student in her major’s junior class and has earned a hat trick of appearances on the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s List for her 3.98 cumulative GPA. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Many students struggle to maintain good grades, but Katy Van Lieshout makes it look like a breeze. The 20-year-old women’s soccer defender is the top student in her major’s junior class. She was DU’s Freshman Scholar-Athlete in 2009 and has earned a hat trick of appearances on the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s List for her 3.98 cumulative GPA. In 2011, she was the second woman in DU history to make the Capital One Academic All-America Women’s Soccer First Team.

Van Lieshout says she always has held herself to high standards. She was an honor student and captain of the varsity soccer team at Boulder High School. She also traveled nationally with a Denver-based club team and says she spent countless hours doing homework in the car with a headlamp while her parents drove her to practice and games.

In her downtime, the engineering major and Boulder, Colo., native gets her kicks by snowboarding, practicing photography, hanging out with friends and family — and helping peers with their math homework.

“I really like to teach people and help people figure stuff out,” Van Lieshout says. “If I understand something and can help explain it so they can figure it out, it’s really rewarding.”

Van Lieshout’s soccer schedule includes practice four mornings a week, games every weekend and frequent travel during the season. During the off season, she trains about eight hours each week during the winter and 20 hours a week in the spring, and she is a mentor with DU’s Society of Women Engineers.

She also is a member of the DU Engineering Club, which helped her land an internship with a rescue robotics project on campus last summer.

So what’s the secret behind Van Lieshout’s success? Diligence, time management and being proactive, she says.

“In comparison with other students, Kathryn Van Lieshout has been by far the best student in my classroom,” says Yun-Bo Yi, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. “Katy is the epitome of a student-athlete — not only does she excel in athletics, but she has also developed into a truly outstanding student.”

Moving forward, Van Lieshout’s goal is to enjoy every minute of her final year on the soccer team, after which she’ll retire her cleats to pursue a career in biomechanics or renewable energy.

“Soccer has been fun and I’ve loved it, but it’s physically demanding and I think it’ll be time to focus on work and engineering for a while,” she says.



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