first_imgWhat are some challenges you face both on and off the water?”I think one of the challenges is time management. I struggle with that. Rowing is a huge time commitment, but I also want to be involved in other things. So balancing that and academics can be hard and you have to pick and choose what to be involved in. If you have practice at 5:30 a.m. but also have a meeting at 9 p.m. meeting the night before, do you scratch the meeting or go to both and get less sleep? You have to choose and I think I’m getting better at doing that. Rowing is so interesting because you can learn quickly. But there are many things you can still improve on and always try and reach that perfection of movement. You feel like you are never there. The longer I row, the more frustrated I am and feel the more I’m doing wrong. You get the basics down and then it’s all the little things that make you better that take a long time.” Each month, Drake Athletics and the Principal Financial Group features one of the Bulldogs’ international student-athletes. This month, Kerstin Donat, of the rowing team is the featured international student-athlete. How did you decide on Drake?”One day, I was to meet with my high school counselor and a college counselor, who was to help us with applications and everything. I was going to the meeting and he (high school counselor) said there was someone in his office that he thought I would like to meet. It was one of the admissions counselors at Drake, Leslie Mamoorian, and she is super sweet, I love her, she is super nice. She talked about Drake and I really liked what I learned. Later she followed up with me and she knew I couldn’t visit so she made sure I could email a professor along with two current Drake students to ask about their Drake experience. Leslie was really helpful along the way and I think that is why Drake stayed on my radar for colleges.” “I am an international relations major with a minor in politics and a concentration in human resource management. My absolute dream job would be to work for the United Nations. I would also like to work in the international relations field or in politics. I don’t necessarily want to become a politician but I do want to work in politics. I see myself working more behind the scenes. Right now, I have a research position with one of my professors here and I really love researching and doing academic work. I see myself working in a think tank and trying to solve these problems that we have and then providing possible solutions to politicians.If that doesn’t work out, I love my human resource concentration so I can see myself working in that field. I want to work with people, I don’t just want to sit in front of a computer all day.” Donat is a junior and will race this weekend with the team at the 2016 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship in Princeton, N.J. What are you studying and how do you plan to use that degree in the future? What other activities are you involved in outside of rowing?”The last two years I have been on Student Senate as the Academic Affairs Senator. I am also part of the International Student Association, which is an organization for all international students and I represent Europe as a region. So if there are events and they need information on a European tradition, I assist with those questions. I also work as a student ambassador so I give tours to perspective students on campus. My friends and I founded Tedx my freshman year. What we do is organize Ted Talks, but they are live from local speakers and it is a half-day event. It’s exciting because innovative ideas are explored through the community and the club.” Why/when did you move to the States to attend school? How did your family decide to move to Taiwan?”We moved because of my dad’s work. There was an open position in Taiwan and it made sense for our whole family to move out there instead of him being away for six weeks and then back for a week. My mom didn’t like that because he wouldn’t be on vacation for that week, he would still be working. So we said we would try it for a year and if it didn’t work out or the culture shock was too much we could always leave because we still had our house in Germany. But, we ended up staying there for four years so it worked out fine.” What are your favorite things about Drake?”That’s hard. Definitely the community from whatever you do. In high school, I had my academic friends and my soccer friends and I think I still have the same here. I’m so glad I have the rowing girls because I can talk about working out and rowing with them which is something my roommates who are not on rowing don’t understand. Then I have my friends that are the same major and we have classes together who I can talk about homework and classes with. The overall community is great. I think that is typical of America, having that openness. I can talk to anyone on campus if I want to and I think that is really awesome. It’s that openness that allows me too.”Giovanna Zavell, Drake Athletic Communications Student Assistant Print Friendly Version What has been the most challenging thing about this rowing season?”I’m a captain this year and this is the first year we have recruits on the team, which are girls who rowed in high school. Previously, it has always been just walk-ons. We wanted to make sure, as captains, that there is a good connection between the people who never rowed before college and the people who rowed in high school. We tried to bridge that and make sure there were no cliques or fractions within the team. I think we handled it well and its been a smooth integration of all parts of the team. Of course, it’s about coming together as a boat. Rowing is a mental sport and it’s hard to not let my performance be affected by other things going on in my life. It’s challenging to balance stress and academics with rowing but I’m learning.” When did you being rowing?”I started rowing here. I played soccer in high school and loved it so I joined the soccer club here at Drake. I was never near good enough of an athlete and just wanted to play for fun with a little competition. The spring of my freshman year was approaching and I was looking to join another sport that was year-round. My friend got an email from rowing assistant coach Katie Thurstin for prospective new members. My friends and I also wanted to be healthier so it was a perfect moment. I ended up really liking it and here I am today still on the team.” How do you think having international experience will aid you in future goals?”I am really curious. I’m originally from Germany but my international high school was in Taiwan, where my whole family moved when I was 15. I spent the last couple of years of high school in that international school. I think being forced into a different environment, you lose the fear of asking questions and you are much more open minded to different perceptions. Being in Taiwan and being here, I think, has really broadened my perception of what people think and what is right. I’m really curious about cultures now and I’m always asking questions. I think culture is the small things. I still don’t understand why Bill Nye the Science Guy (past Bucksbaum lecturer) is so hyped and I asked why everyone was so excited. I was told he was a part of their education as kids and I would have never known that if I didn’t ask.” “I came to Drake three years ago. I went to an international school for high school (Kaohsiung American School in Kaohsiung, Taiwan), which is an American school, but abroad. All my friends there knew they were going to go to an American university. I started to learn about the American college system and I liked what I found. I grew up in Germany, where college is similar to state schools here in America. They are really big and I didn’t like that because I wanted to have that intimate, personal relationship with professors and be able to have class discussions and know my classmates. I like the liberal arts aspect that colleges and universities have here. In Germany, you chose your major before you start and then you have to stick with that major the three years you are in university. If you want to change your major, you have to start over. I like the exploration you get through the liberal arts here because in Germany you are only able to take classes in your major path.” What are some differences in lifestyle between the United States and Germany?”What always comes to mind is the American perception of distance. I still have trouble with that. When we travel with the rowing team, it can be six hours to the place we are going and everyone else on the team, who are all from here, they all say that is pretty short. I think six hours is a really long time. I lived in a really small town in Germany, which is about an hour and a half outside of Munich so if my family and I go there, we make it like a day trip. We would plan to take the train to Munich, shop all day and then go home later at night. Here my friends laugh at me because here an hour and a half is nothing. I’m still baffled when people say they are driving five hours home from Drake.”last_img read more