Thordardottir pursuing her Ph.D. in chemistry
ABOVE VIDEO: Scholar-Athlete Spotlight Ep. 12: Veronica Thordardottir
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Being a scholar-athlete at Florida Tech takes an incredible amount of hard work and dedication to excel both in the classroom and on the field.
In this Scholar-Athlete Spotlight, we feature Panther women’s soccer player Veronica Thordardottir, a graduate student who is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in chemistry.
Originally from Akranes, Iceland, the midfielder is in her fourth year at Florida Tech after spending her freshman year at East Carolina University.
Thordardottir has been named to the Sunshine State Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll and Florida Tech Athletic Director’s Honor Roll in each her of her first three years at Tech.
Thordardottir recently sent the Panthers to their first NCAA Tournament win in eight years when she scored the winning penalty kick against Mississippi College. She and the Panthers will look to continue their remarkable season next Friday in Pensacola against West Florida.
There are many engineering stories wherever you go at Florida Tech and each one is different. We sat down with Thordardottir for her story.
■ What’s your major at Florida Tech and why did you choose it? Is it something that you’ve always wanted to be a part of?
I’m currently pursuing a PhD in chemistry. I graduated in the spring with my bachelor’s in mathematical sciences with a minor in chemistry.
I chose that initially because I just loved math, anything science-related, and then as I came to Florida Tech and got more involved in chemistry, that’s how I just decided to carry on with that.
■ What about Florida Tech stood out to you when you were looking at colleges?
First of all, the location is just amazing, it’s a great place to be. And then, of course, the school stood out because of the perfect class sizes, being able to connect with professors, and then the soccer team was a big plus to that too.
■ What academic challenges does going for a PhD present?
It’s a little different than undergrad, especially doing soccer as well. Pursuing a PhD is just more in your own hands.
There’s not teachers walking you through everything anymore. You have to be disciplined in what you’re supposed to be doing and just stay on track.
■ What are some of the exciting projects that you’ve been able to work on in classes here?
I haven’t started my own research yet, I hope to do that next fall. But I have been able to help some of the people in my lab that are PhD’s that came before me.
We’re working with electrochemistry, so that’s been really cool. And being able to apply that to anything related to health is probably my main interest. Since I’m just in my first year, I’m excited to see where it’ll take me.
I’m hoping that along the way, I’m just going to keep learning new things, experiencing things. And another thing that’s a part of that is I get to teach while doing my PhD. So, I think that’s a cool experience as well.
■ What has teaching been like? Did you expect to do that when you were first pursuing a PhD?
No, I didn’t think it was an option. But once it was an option, I was super excited about it because I love to teach! And it’s amazing being able to work with a great faculty and be able to teach something I love to do.
■ How has being a collegiate athlete prepared you for what you’re doing now and what do you take from soccer that you apply to your studies?
Definitely discipline. One of the big things I also take is time management, being organized and working with a team. You’re not going to be able to do anything or close to as much on your own as you could with a team.
So just being open to other people’s ideas, what they see that you might not see, and just being open to go from there.
■ What advice would you give to an athlete coming here that also wants to get into mathematical sciences?
Just be open to all opportunities that come your way. This is not what I planned for but if I would have been closed minded or not open to trying new things, it would have never presented itself to me.
So be open to that, talk to people, join clubs, or research labs. Anything that you have the slightest interest in, just try it. If it’s not for you, that’s okay but it might be something that can take you even further.
■ What was the experience last weekend at the NCAA Tournament like, especially scoring the winning penalty against Mississippi College?
It was incredible, so much fun! At first, we didn’t know that was the winning PK.
That’s why it took me so long to start celebrating but once we figured it out, it was an amazing feeling to just huddle up and celebrate each other for a really hard-fought win.
■ Did it make beating the No. 1 seed Lee University two days later even more rewarding, since it was in a similar manner?
Yeah, even more so than the first game. I felt like I was just shaking and tearing up because that was just a huge win. I’m so proud of the girls and I’m so excited to see what we can continue to do from here.
■ How rewarding has this season been for you?
Just being with the team, seeing what Coach Ryan Moon has been able to do with us. Seeing that vision and getting the feeling that we are good enough and that we can win. We’ve definitely shown that this year. I just think it’s one of the best groups of girls to be around.
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