Western honours its top student-athletes


By Communications Staff
Thursday, December 10, 2009
The Western Mustangs are tops in Ontario and have jumped to fourth in the nation when it comes to the number of top academic student-athletes.
With 101 Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) Academic All-Canadians this year, the Mustangs trail only Laval (141), McGill (131) and Alberta (111) for the number of student-athletes with academic averages of 80% or better who compete in CIS sports.  

Once again, Western leads Ontario University Athletics by boasting 137 Achievement Award winners (student-athletes with academic averages of 80% or better who compete in OUA sports).  
More than 25 per cent of Western's student-athletes have an average of 80% or better with 238 Mustangs earning this status.
One of those is Cassandra Welten, who is as gifted in the classroom (95 per cent average) as she is on the ice with the Western Mustangs women's hockey team.
Cassandra Welten
A native of Crysler, Ont., south of Ottawa, Welten hopes to be a doctor one day and believes Western was the perfect choice for her to blend her athletics with academics.  
A student in biomedical sciences at Western, Welten says she doesn't really think about the high level of both academic and athletic standing she has displayed as Mustang student-athlete.  
"Western is home to some of the brightest and most engaged young people that I have ever encountered," says Welten. "Everyone here kind of has 'their thing.' It’s an awesome community dynamic. Doing hockey and school is just my own niche."   Self-discipline, she adds, and time management is key to her success in both the classroom and on the ice.
"Lately, my days have consisted of loading backpack to capacity, biking into campus, then buckling down for the day," says Welten. "Maximizing those small time gaps between classes and practice, among other things, makes a big difference.  
"I have also learned that I am most productive when I lead a very balanced and active life. That is, I tend to be more engaging and focused on the whole at times that involve juggling social, student and athletic aspects of my Western experience. It’s like channeling some hyperactivity mode."  
Welten credits the Western community as a whole for facilitating her success.  
“I am very thankful for the many professors who have been accommodating in terms of scheduling exams around games or weekends on the road,” she says. “It means being able to focus on hockey while at hockey. It’s great peace of mind."  
There is additional challenges student-athletes face, Welten says, like scheduling classes around practices.
"It can be problematic sometimes, especially for upper-year students, whose course offerings may be limited to one section at a particular hour," she says "For some girls on the team, this means sacrificing one or two practices a week."  
Welten is a national scholarship recipient, awarded for her dedication and commitment to both sport and study.  
"This award covers a large chunk of my undergrad tuition in addition to offsetting residence fees in first year," she says. "Moreover, I received funding via the NSERC undergraduate student research award, which allowed me to spend the summer months working in conjunction with Professor Dr. Maxwell conducting lab research here at Western.

Western honoured its student-athletes today at its annual Academic Awards Luncheon in the Great Hall.

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