Although Case Western Reserve University sophomore Kristin Ko had a successful four-year tennis career at Anderson High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, she did not plan on playing for the Spartans. Ko was interested in trying something new.
"My parents, along with my brother, came up for Labor Day weekend my freshman year and while we were hitting balls up on the courts, some of the women on the varsity team saw me playing and told me 'you should join the team'. They continued to bug me, so I gave it a try."
And as they say 'the rest is history.' Ko currently plays No. 1 singles and doubles for the Spartans in her second season and although her record may not show it, interim Head Coach Dan Palmer has no reservations about her potential on the court.
"Kristin is our most consistent competitor and she has the mindset that will allow her to be successful," Palmer said. "On the court, she is focused and level headed."
The Case Western Reserve women head to St. Louis, Mo. for the 2008 University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship hosted by Washington University April 17-19.
The UAA currently has four women's tennis teams ranked in the Top 30 in the nation by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) - Emory University is ranked No. 4, Carnegie Mellon University is No. 7, the University of Chicago is No. 26 and Washington is No. 27.
"We didn't do very well last year at the UAA Championships," Ko explained. "Hopefully this year we will do better. We are young. The team is mostly freshmen and sophomores. There are a lot of players who don't have a lot of experience at this level."
Ko, a Co-UAA Athlete of the Week in February, is not only gaining experience on the courts, but in the classroom as well. The chemistry major is still torn between pre-med or graduate school, although she is leaning towards the latter.
"I don't know if medical school is exactly what I am looking for in a career," she explained. "I just want to do something different. I know a lot of people here [at Case Western Reserve] who are pre-med. I would like to venture off and do something different."
Teaching science or chemistry at the high school or college level is something that interests Ko. Working in industry is also in the back of her mind.
Ko is currently doing biochemistry research under the direction of Dr. Irene Lee, an associate professor in the chemistry department. Dr. Lee's group is studying the protein degradation mechanism of the ATP-dependent protease Lon. Ultimately, they hope to provide information that will contribute to a molecular understanding of diseases caused by defective metabolic enzymes.
She will be continuing her work with Dr. Lee and remaining on campus this summer as part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) summer program in undergraduate research (SPUR) in the Department of Biology.
SPUR is a ten-week [end of May to beginning of August] full-time commitment. It is designed to acquaint students with all aspects of scientific research, from formulation of a question to production of a final report. The chosen fellows [through an application program] receive a $3,500 stipend and $1,000 housing allowance.
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