Dashing down the court. Aiming (and scoring) high on her latest test. Weaving her way between restaurant patrons and busy waiters. Whatever Pacific Union College student Julie Ford is doing, chances are good that there’s movement involved—which is just what Ford wants.
“You have to know that you’re not going to have a normal college life experience—but that’s not what I was looking for,” asserts Ford, a junior exercise science major. She’s working on an online summer class (taking 12 credits, total), as part of her uncommon plan to graduate early (for her program)—in four years, instead of five. This academic athlete, who declined to define her high GPA, adheres to the mantra that “doing just enough to get by is not enough to get ahead.” Although “school’s the priority,” Ford also makes time for other activities, such as games with her PUC Pioneers Basketball teammates.
After six-day-a-week workouts, post-gym icing sessions, and late-night meals at the dining commons, teammates’ faces become familiar sights. “You see them all the time—on trips, in hotels, during class, next to you in the caf… they make the victories sweeter, because they understand what it took to get there,” remembers Ford. Even with the change of seasons, she still enjoys the friendships of the past year, by rooming this summer with fellow guard Lara Canders. However, to prevent single-sport burnout, she diversifies: with multiple intramurals to choose from, there’s never a lack of sports in her day—nor in her future.
“If I love what I’m doing, it’s not work,” says Ford, who looks forward to later employment as a high school P.E. teacher. “I like helping others know their potential—and then reach it. As a teacher, I can reach kids, influence them in ways their parents can’t.” In her athletic future, she sees herself moving more into individual sports, such as triathlons, in order to provide an outlet for her craving for competition.
In addition to sports equipment, she also juggles two jobs: one at the PUC gym she never seems to leave, and another at the nearby St. Helena sushi restaurant CC Blue. Ford has also served at the upscale local restaurant Press. There she’s had experiences few PUC students can match: “I served Christina Aguilera bread. She looked like she needed it.”
So what does this high achiever do in her free time? “I do nothing,” Ford claims, with a laugh. But she certainly accomplishes much more than that.
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