Academic Discovery

Jan. 8, 2010

By Jeremy Wu

Motivation comes in many forms. For California women's tennis sophomore Catalina Visico, it used to come in the form of reward. The second-year Golden Bear treated herself to popsicles or allowed herself to watch her favorite television program whenever she reached her own academic goals.

For someone who considered herself a scholarly individual in high school, the Long Beach, Calif., native has begun to discover the true meaning of immersing herselfinto her studies.

Visico entered her freshman year with pre-med aspirations and took courses in molecular and cell biology. Over time, she allowed herself to discover what truly excited her in the classroom. Today, she is a double-major in two vastly disparate areas; economics and French.

For Visico, having a mother who specializes in blood science and a father who earns his living as an engineer, her interest in the way things work was cultivated at an early age. Visico describes herself as an emotional person - one who yearns for human connection in what she does and in what she opens her mind to. In a matter of 14 months, she has dramatically changed the course of her study. Still, she maintains that her parents have always encouraged her, no matter what direction she has chosen.

'My parents have always told me to do whatever I want to do,' said Visico. 'I think they understand that it's much more important that I'm happy with what I'm doing than it is for them to be happy with what I'm doing.'

Those values have spurred Visico to become a valuable contributor to the academic success of the women's tennis team. After brushing aside her feelings of homesickness, Visico embraced her new surroundings warmly and has learned life lessons beyond her initial expectations.

In just a year on campus, Visico is proud to proclaim that she understands how much more important it is to learn about yourself than it is simply to learn.

'The lessons we learn on the way to our degree will last much longer than the degree does,' said Visico, whose older sister, Christina, lettered for the Bears from 2005-08.

Visico puts a premium on arriving at her own goals, and being a part of the women's tennis team has made her task both easier and more difficult at the same time. The women's tennis program won the Newmark Award two seasons ago for the highest team grade-point average among all of the sports at Cal and has continued to keep its stranglehold on the top spot over the last year.

'The girls on the team are competitive, no doubt,' said Visico. 'On the court, there's no question how strong the team is. It's off the court that people don't know about, but each and every member of the team pushes the others to do better because of their own desire to do well in the classroom.'

While the pressure to succeed is heightened in the collegiate environment, Visico knows that those around her share the same goals.

'A degree from the University of California is huge,' said Visico. 'It opens a lot of doors and opportunities for a bright future. While those opportunities belong to us as individuals, real credit should be given to the ones that have push us to succeed. That's more than enough motivation.'

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