March 17, 2010
By MOISEKAPENDA BOWER
The academic rigors that come with attending Rice and the cultural isolation that can accompany being a student-athlete didn't deter senior thrower Katie Dollinger from making herself available to others almost immediately upon her arrival on campus.
An early statistics class provided the opportunity for Dollinger to bond with a teammate, and the shared experience of grinding through class work allowed her to tap into her desire to help those in need. That experience was her first in serving as an athlete peer academic advisor.
"I like helping people and I know most of the athletes, so if it's someone I know it's just more motivating," Dollinger said. "We're all at Rice, we're all athletes, we all commit a lot of time to our sports, so perhaps we don't have the time to try to figure it out by ourselves. If I know how to do something and it's really easy for me, I think it's beneficial for me to help someone out that's struggling."
Activities interest Dollinger, from her time served as an Orientation Week advisor, an O-Week coordinator and an academic fellow to her commitments as a tutor and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Her cleaving to the concept of teamwork might appear to run contrary to her station as a specialist in the throws for the track and field team, but Dollinger was active in basketball before attending Rice, where the culture of the track team facilitates camaraderie and not individualism.
"At Rice, because we compete every year for conference (titles), it's an individual sport but you really do feel like you're part of a team and part of this one goal where we want to win conference," Dollinger said. "At the same time I've always been a team player, and if I can help my teammate out they're your teammate and you want to help them.
"If you just stay on the athletic side of things and avoid your residential college (Dollinger resides at Jones), you miss out on a lot of things."
As a result of her willingness to extend aid to others Dollinger has established strong relationships with her fellow Jones residents, with student-athletes representing other sports, and with her fellow throwers on the track team. Her numerous commitments inspired Dollinger to step across natural boundaries and enabled her to glean gratification from the extracurricular work that has been on her plate.
"I feel better when I know I've helped someone for the day," said Dollinger, a mathematical economic analysis major and business minor. "When you're done helping someone else that had no idea what they were doing and they at least kind of understand, you feel better. It feels better than sitting in a room and doing your own stuff for a while.
"As an athlete in high school coming to Rice, I've met people I probably would have never been friends with in high school. I've seen how unique and fun people are, and I honestly don't know if I played a sport at a state school if I would have met the different caliber of people."
By willingly sharing her academic prowess with others, Katie Dollinger has established herself as one of Tomorrow's Leaders.