When Stephen Andryc told his high school wrestling coach he was considering competing at the collegiate level, his coach shared some sage advice: “Choose a place where you’ll thrive—even if you get injured and athletics is removed from the picture.”
For Andryc, that place was Case Western Reserve. Now a varsity wrestler and a rising fourth-year student in an integrated master’s program studying mathematics, quantitative economics and physics, he’s continued his athletic pursuits while immersing himself in his studies.
“I went into college with a laundry list of goals motivated more by my competitiveness than anything else,” said Andryc, who hails from New York City. “Over time I have come to realize how fortunate I am to be able to study and wrestle at a place like CWRU; making the most of that opportunity has become what drives me.”
Rather than viewing academics and athletics as competing priorities, Andryc was encouraged to use his strengths in one area to improve the other. With wrestling, he began taking notes on practices similar to how he would for his lectures. Academically, he leveraged traits learned from his sport—such as discipline, confidence, perseverance and optimism—to drive success in the classroom.
“Wrestling at CWRU has shaped how I interact with other people, set goals for myself and face challenges life throws at me,” he noted “[It has prepared] me just as much as any of my classes for what lies ahead after graduation.”
Thanks to a positive experience in his first year of the integrated master’s program, Andryc plans to apply to a mathematics PhD program, ultimately aspiring to teach math at the college level.
He’ll take his first steps toward this goal this summer as he conducts research under Joel Langer, a university professor and Theodore M. Focke professorial fellow; developing his master’s thesis and familiarizing himself with relevant concepts not yet learned in classes to help with creating a specific research question.
Although he spends most of his time on coursework, wrestling practices and peer tutoring for the Department of Academic Resources, Andryc isn’t all work and no play. From spending time with his friends at Jolly Scholar’s karaoke nights and starting wrestling practice with the “Cha Cha Slide” to running along the cultural gardens path and participating in other enjoyable experiences, Andryc takes time to cherish his experiences at CWRU.
“I certainly do not do a perfect job of this every day,” Andryc said, “but with the level of support I get from the CWRU community at large, I think it is incredibly important to find ways to contribute to that culture by reciprocating that support whenever and however I am able to.”