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Life at St. Mary’s College of California: Megan Zummo on Balancing Lacrosse and Academics

December 1, 2014

Megan Zummo

Dublin High School Class of 2013 graduate and St. Mary’s College of California sophomore Megan Zummo’s story is the latest entry in’s popular Life in College Series. Megan is attending St. Mary’s on an athletic scholarship, playing for the SMC Gaels Women’s Lacrosse Team. What attracted you to attend St. Mary’s College of California?

Megan Zummo: “I originally wanted to go to a big school, but over time I realized that lecture halls with 300 students was not the way I wanted to go. I wanted to have close relationships with my teachers, and at St. Mary’s the student to teacher ratio is really low. St. Mary’s also offered me a scholarship for lacrosse.” How did you get introduced to lacrosse and why did you fall in love with the sport?

Zummo: “I’ve played soccer since I was in elementary school and when I arrived at Dublin High School my fifth grade teacher was one of the first lacrosse coaches. She told me the best soccer players make the best lacrosse players and recommended I try the sport.

“Lacrosse is a very fast-paced sport and it took me about a year to fully understand and get good at the sport. Lacrosse is like soccer, but there are a lot of technical skills you have to learn. I love the pace of the game!” Talk about the recruiting process for athletes which is a bit different from students enrolling strictly on academic merit.

Megan Zummo St Marys College of California Womens Lacrosse 3Zummo: “If you are part of a club team you’ll go to 3-4 tournaments per season and are encouraged to email college coaches because every tournament will have coaches walking around and watching the games. There are also camps you can attend where you’ll get a chance to meet one-on-one with coaches; I first met my coach at St. Mary’s this way.

“I attended the St. Mary’s lacrosse camp during the summer, both going into my junior and senior years, and committed to St. Mary’s at the beginning of my senior year. My grades were high enough that I didn’t have to worry about the conditions for entry into St. Mary’s so I was able to relax and enjoy my senior year without the college admissions stress. Even though I still had to fill out the application and write an admissions essay, I had no worries because I had everything figured out!” How have you balanced academics and athletics, and the expectations in college as a student on an athletic scholarship?

Zummo: “In high school I was an overachiever, staying up late to get my homework done. In college time management is extremely important. It took me my whole first semester to get settled into a routine: figuring out the right food to eat, how much sleep I needed, and achieving a balance between athletics and academics to be successful.

“Communicating with your professors is extremely important. If you explain what you are going through and ask for an extension for a paper they will likely support you. You need to work with your professors and make sure everything gets done.” Describe how the lacrosse season works.

Megan Zummo St Marys College of California Womens Lacrosse 4Zummo: “This semester we have ‘fall ball’, which started a few weeks into school and lasts about a month and a half. We train every single day with lifting every other day. In October we had scrimmages every weekend. Conditioning continues this month, but with fewer hours and then we break for the holidays.

“St. Mary’s has a January term where we have one class four days per week, and during that time we have double-day training with conditioning and lifting. The season starts at the end of February with games during the week and on weekends.

“We do end up traveling for half of our games, both locally in the Bay Area and beyond. During our travel trips we have a study hall session in the hotel to get our school work done. It is difficult because traveling takes up a lot of energy and you end up missing classes, but as long as you communicate with your professors and know what needs to get done, it’s manageable. This year in addition to ten home games, we have local Bay Area games and longer trips by plane to San Diego, Oregon and and even an east coast trip over spring break, which is really fun. Have you settled on a major?

Zummo: “I entered St. Mary’s undeclared. I took the visual communications class at Dublin High School, and that led to trying communications, but I found out pretty quickly that wasn’t for me. I’ve focused on completing my general ed requirements, and am currently a business administration major with a concentration in digital media.” How have you found the transition from high school to college academics?

Zummo: “In college there is a lot more reading and a smaller amount of major assignments, and less little things. In college it’s about time management, planning your schedule and being mature because your grade is based on a much smaller number of essays and tests. You don’t get lots of easy marks along the way.” What is it like living on the St. Mary’s campus, which is spectacular.

St. Mary's  Campus

St. Mary’s Campus

Zummo: “I can get from one end of the campus to the other in about ten minutes, and it’s great having everything so close. It’s such a small community that everywhere you go you know someone, and I love that. There are trees everywhere, you can just stop in the middle of campus and absorb the beauty. The missionary architecture is wonderful and overall it’s a nice environment to live in.

“I did experience some homesickness in the beginning, and went home most weekends. It was a big transition living on my own at first, but I’m staying on campus more this year. Over time, campus becomes your home, so at the end of the holidays I’ll say ‘I have to go back home now’ and my parents will say ‘wait, this is your home!’. You create a second family on campus.” What advice do you have for juniors and seniors who aspire to attend college and get the most out of the experience?

Megan with friends

Megan with friends

Zummo: “Definitely visit college campuses because stepping foot on a campus is much different from looking at pictures. Communicating what you need and want with your parents, advisors and professors is really important. As I mentioned before time management really helps reduce your stress. And make sure to leave some ‘me time’ in your schedule, including getting enough sleep.

“I recommend getting involved as much as you can. After getting acclimated to my schedule and the homework load, I found that I had some free time to work some of the athletic games as part of the event staff. If I’m not working a game, I’m usually out supporting the other sports as a fellow athlete and friend. The athletic community is an amazing thing to be a part of and some of my closest friends are other athletes on different teams. Aside from athletic events, any college will have campus activities and fun opportunities only available to college students. For example, I recently got to see the new Hunger Games movie before the premiere was open to the public! Only Saint Mary’s students were allowed and we had a lot of fun.

“As well as all the social activities, St. Mary’s has an amazing staff focused on helping students get through college smoothly and preparing for the real world. The Career Center offers workshops, information sessions, and mock interviews to help students get an internship or job. I recommend students to take full advantage of those opportunities.
“I also recommend considering studying abroad. As I mentioned earlier, Saint Mary’s has a January Term where we only take one class for all of January. St. Mary’s offers a ton of classes abroad where you can spend a month pretty much wherever you want and learn amazing things, it’s a great option as well as taking a full semester abroad. To travel and study in any place outside the U.S. would be unforgettable. I’m hoping to go to Italy and/or Ireland at some point during my Junior and Senior year.

“Finally, it’s very important to choose your friends wisely, because the people you surround yourself with reflects on who you are. If you hang around a bunch of goofballs that aren’t getting their work done you are probably not going to do that well in your classes.”

At the Dublin High School 2013 Senior Awards Night Megan Zummo was recognized as a U.S. Army Reserve – National Scholar/Athlete, was awarded aDee Ronchette-Dublin United Soccer League Scholarship, Dublin High Athletic Boosters Scholarship, Dublin Teachers Association Academic Student Scholarship, and St. Mary’s College of California scholarship, was named a California Scholarship Federation Life Member, earned a President’s Silver Award for Education Excellence and earned Dublin High School’s Advanced Scholar Diploma.

Other articles in the Life in College series: