PLAS concentrator David Peña ’12 balances academic and athletic life

Photos of David Peno

Left: David Peña (right) dur­ing an intern­ship at the Mex­i­can embassy in Madrid, along­side Ernesto Sosa Gal­le­gos (left), a coun­selor in the polit­i­cal affairs divi­sion. Right: Squash player David Peña. (Photo at left cour­tesy of David Peña; photo at right by Bev­erly Schaefer)

For the nearly 1,000 students, or about 20 percent of the University’s undergraduates, who suit up for Princeton’s 38 varsity sports teams, life as a student-athlete poses both opportunities and challenges.

Varsity athletes have the chance to travel around the United States and even in other countries for competition, while creating deep bonds with their teammates, honing their talents and learning values such as leadership and fair play. Student-athletes, such as David Peña featured below, balance their rigorous athletic commitment with coursework and other extracurricular activities during their college years.

David Peña, class of 2012

Hometown: Mexico City

Sport: Men’s squash

Academic focus: Politics major; pursuing a certificate in Latin American studies

Other activities: Princeton Junior Squash program; dormitory assistant; working in the Princeton University Library

Favorite Princeton sports moment: “Easy. Feb. 22, 2009, a 5-4 heartbreaking loss against Trinity College during the National Team Championship Finals held at Princeton. The atmosphere of playing for the championship, the support displayed by the school and the intensity of the six-hour-long game was indescribable; hard to believe unless you were present. Despite the loss, I am confident the best is yet to come.”

On balancing squash and other activities: “Like most athletes at the college level, I have practiced a sport since I was a child. I think one gets used to the rush and pressure of combining athletics with academics, family, social life and personal projects. Although it is challenging, having an organized schedule is key to balance all the activities. In addition, professors, coaches and peers have been willing to provide advice and help me along the way.”

Biggest achievement at Princeton outside of squash: “Last year, with support of the Office of International Programs, I had the opportunity to work at the Mexican embassy to Spain, in the political affairs division. I very much enjoyed the experience, and it made me consider perhaps a career path in diplomacy working for the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs.”

Excerpted from this article published on the main Princeton University website