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'You can be yourself'


2014-08-13

As a member of the women's soccer team, Rachel Niddrie '15 of Worcester, Mass., has a busy and demanding schedule. But the psychology major's professors are supportive of her endeavors - both on and off the field.

In addition to providing opportunities to make up missed class work due to a game, "They are also known to stop by some matches, and congratulate my team and me on wins," Niddrie said. "As a player and a psychology major, it is so wonderful to have faculty so involved in athletics."

She continued, "It had been a dream of mine to play college soccer since I first put on a pair of cleats. MCLA and Coach Raber helped me achieve that goal by giving me a chance to show them what I was capable of both on the field and in the classroom."

The soccer program was one of the main reasons Niddrie decided to attend MCLA. Over the past three years, she's grown more than she thought possible.

"I have learned responsibility, time management, leadership skills, communication skills and healthy living," Niddrie said. "I have also made the best friends I think I will ever have. My team and coaches have been there to pick me up when I'm down and celebrate with me when I was up."

In addition to belonging to the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), participating in intramural sports and serving as an admissions ambassador, last semester Niddrie explored her Irish heritage as she studied abroad at the University of Limerick in Ireland.

"Studying at a large university was definitely a new experience," she said. "I was able to make friends from all over the United States and with people from different places in Europe and Ireland. Being able to explore the beautiful country of Ireland and visiting Paris and London was a life-changing experience."

With graduate school in her future, it was particularly important that Niddrie save money on her undergraduate education by attending an in-state school. Because she's at MCLA, "I am not as worried about student loans. I will still have to take them out for graduate school, but I will not be swimming in as much debt as I could have been in if I had chosen to go somewhere else."

At MCLA, "Classes aren't lectures. I have never come across a class at MCLA where a professor is simply reading off a paper. Professors ask questions and start discussions. They want you to be involved in your learning. They care that you understand the material, and want you to learn it."

When Niddrie first applied to MCLA, she repeatedly heard people refer to the campus as a "community," but it wasn't until she arrived that she understood what that meant.

"MCLA is a safe place to grow and learn," Niddrie said.

"MCLA creates an environment where you can be yourself, and people will accept you for that. What I didn't know until I came to MCLA is that home isn't always where you grew up, but how you feel when you are surrounded by people who care about you and want to spend time with you - not because you go to the same school, but because they like you for who you are. MCLA has a place for you."