Graduates honored at Athletics commencement

As Craig Helmstetter’s peers walked across the Smith Center’s stage May 14 to receive their degrees, the senior was in Worcester, Mass. preparing to compete in his penultiamte race as a Colonial.

Helmstetter, the captain of the men’s rowing team, was honored along with nine other student athletes May 10, all who missed their own graduation ceremonies to compete in their respective games and races over Commencement Weekend.

University Marshal Jill Kasle, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven Lerman and University President Steven Knapp hosted the ceremony, each noting the dedication of the men’s and women’s rowing teams and the men’s baseball, soccer and tennis teams members over their varsity careers.

“College sports has an important role in university life…for teamwork, to cultivate the skills of leadership, create a strong work ethic, hold people personally accountable for their performance and their behavior, and encourage an honesty in athletic competition,” Lerman said.

Jon Greenwich, assistant baseball coach, said being a student athlete is a tough job that not every student could do.

“It’s a full time job being a Division I athlete. And it’s another full time job being a student at GW. Either of these endeavors alone would be an immense challenge to take on, and these young men have done both, and they’ve done both very well,” Greenwich said.

Helmstetter, the student speaker, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering.

The senior encouraged his fellow graduates to apply the dedication they had in sports to future endeavors.

“Being a student athlete has been a blessing in many ways. I find myself constantly busy, stressed, tired, sore…but I couldn’t really think of a better way to develop growth, commitment and leadership,” Helmstetter said.

He added, “as we move on in the next steps of our lives, I challenge my teammates to continue their commitment, to maintain their perseverance…you leave with the legacy of dedication to your teammates, you leave committed to conquer whatever’s next in your life.”

Melissa and Larry Turner, mother and stepfather of Alexandra Hamilton, the one graduating senior on the women’s rowing team, traveled from their home outside of Philadelphia for the ceremony.

The Turners will spend the weekend at the rowing team’s competition in New Jersey.

“It’s very exciting to be here. We’re very pleased. She had a great experience and education at GW, and we are so proud to be here at the end of it,” Melissa Turner said.

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