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Student Spotlight: Averie Collins

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Portrait of Averie Collins

February 5, 2019

Meet Averie Collins, MS&E senior, whose success on and off the soccer field is driven by humility, work ethic, and commitment.

Collins is majoring in Management Science and Engineering with a concentration in Organizations, Technology, and Policy, and she also plays the forward position for Stanford Women's Soccer. Here, she provides insights from her perspective as a student and athlete at Stanford.

"Soccer has taught me so many incredible life skills from teamwork to problem solving, which I think directly applies to my work in MS&E."

You grew up in Bozeman, Montana. What made Stanford feel like home after you arrived here?

My experience is pretty unique due to the fact that I had the Stanford soccer team from the moment I walked in. I had a built-in community and family where my teammates were my friends, and they were also mentors who helped me navigate the sometimes overwhelming place that Stanford can be. Being so young and coming to such a new and unfamiliar place, having this built-in community allowed me to fully immerse myself and attack the Stanford experience in a way that maybe wouldn't have been possible otherwise.

How did you choose to major in MS&E?

Coming into Stanford I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew I was interested in many different things. MS&E was really appealing to me because it allowed me to not be pigeonholed. Instead, it gave me the broad exposure to learn as much as possible. I got to dip my toes in many different things, from business to mathematics to computer science, and explore different parts of myself to find what I was really interested in. That's where I got the opportunity to specialize and choose my area of concentration. I also really valued the technical background that MS&E offered me. I also have a very creative side, and I knew if I could marry that with a technical background it would really open doors and leave a variety of possibilities on the table to explore.

What class have you enjoyed the most?

Engineering 145, Technology Entrepreneurship, because it allowed me to really apply the skills I've learned through my coursework in MS&E. The class starts with a mentor-guided project where students work on a startup project in teams. We started with the ideation phase, and then presented and pitched our idea to a board of mock investors. At the end of the class, we got to meet successful real-life entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who told us their stories, their tips for success, and their failures. This class was the first real hands-on experience that I got in an area that I was interested in. It gave students exposure to the real-life version of what we learned.

How do you find balance between academics, sports and life?

Time management is key—I make sure to allocate and dedicate time to each of three things: academic, athletics, and social life. Being a student-athlete, it's really easy to get caught up in athletics and academics, and I think it's usually the social part that can fall by the wayside. So I make an effort to allocate time to spend with my friends, and I also try to cherish the moments in between activities. I designate that time for friends, perhaps meeting people before dinner or just hanging out in my room with friends. To me, Stanford is as much about the people as it is about the academics and the athletics. Sometimes, finding your balance also involves saying no to certain things and being selfish when you have commitments or deadlines and you can’t spend time with friends. Overall, you have to be diligent and know what's going to be best for you, but also give yourself some leeway to take a chance and do something spontaneous.

How has your role on the soccer team informed your academic experience?

I think they definitely go hand in hand. Soccer has taught me so many incredible life skills from teamwork to problem solving, which I think directly applies to my work in MS&E. For example, in business are you are often faced with a complex problem. And with many different opinions and views and values on a team, you have to work together to meet a common goal. I think that's exactly what sports are about, and it provides an obvious parallel to the business world and almost everything you face in life.

In that way, soccer ties right into MS&E and everything I'm learning about problem solving, teamwork, and what I potentially hope to do in the future. Sports also provide discipline for hard work and time management, all essential life skills that will pay off down the line.

What advice would you have for younger and incoming Stanford students?

Don't let fear be the reason you don't try something new at Stanford. There are so many new and incredible experiences that can be super intimidating because of this place you're at and the people who are here. But it's those experiences that you're a little scared of that end up stretching you and letting you grow in ways that you never thought possible. Stay true to your curiosity and thirst to learn, and always push yourself to learn new things, to meet new people, and to stay curious about Stanford. That's how you're going to get the most out of it.

What do you do when you're not studying or playing soccer?

I love to be outdoors. Growing up in a rural part of Montana, almost every weekend I was fishing, hiking, camping, and doing all kinds of things outdoors. I also just enjoy spending time with my friends and being around people. That’s what makes Stanford so special to me--the people you meet here all bring a different viewpoint, a different perspective, a different human experience, and I find it really valuable to learn, share, and grow from those perspectives. It really makes Stanford what it is. My favorite moments are the in-between moments, staying up till 2:00 AM where we joke and ponder deep questions, like: What really is infinity? What actually is a synapse, and what does one look like? These in-between moments, the conversations that you have with people at Stanford and the insight they're able to offer, are so different than anything I've experienced. I think the biggest thing I've gained since coming to Stanford is the diversity of perspectives. I’ve experienced a whole new world of people and depth that I never knew was out there.

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