Focus, patience, passion - three words that drive #45, Grace Stant, a junior Fitzpatrick College of Nursing student and a guard on the Villanova women’s basketball team.
The star student athlete is able to transition from court to hospital floor with professionalism and purpose – ready for early morning wake-ups after late night flights in from away games. She moves from player to nurse – calculating her movements, communicating, leading – prepared to learn and care for her patients while on her clinical rotation in Philadelphia. Following a busy day on the floor with her fellow nursing students, she once again changes direction and returns to campus for a 2 pm practice. Grace’s dual devotion to her academic and athletic requirements is admired by her peers and family.
Balancing Division I athletics and the demands of a premier nursing program is no ordinary feat. Grace’s 12-hour days can include anything from clinical to airport homework sessions. Fortunately, Grace is not only a Villanovan, but a student shaped by the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing - two qualities that make her no ordinary person.
Grace is more than a student-athlete, but a role model to future basketball players, and an inspiration to young women interested in pursuing both of their passions in college. Grace’s dedication sets the standard for student-athlete-nurses who may follow in her footsteps at Villanova. Often, students feel pressure to choose one over the other but the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing and Villanova Athletics work hand in hand to provide a unique opportunity for their students.
Coaches Harry Perretta and Joe Mulaney are extremely supportive of Grace’s career aspirations – allowing Grace to maintain a healthy balance of playing time and studying. Grace is an excellent example of that. Any feelings of being overwhelmed can be combated with the support of her family and teammates as well as her excitement for her career as a nurse.
Though basketball and nursing may seem unrelated, Grace has found that they are excellent compliments to one another. From basketball, she has learned that “you can’t succeed if you don’t work hard,” which has translated into her dedicated studies to be a nurse. That mindset is perfect for her clinical work, where she has learned to be more patient and understanding. The combination of the two makes her a better teammate and friend, each role shaping her as a Villanova Nurse.
Villanova’s student-athletes are a force to be reckoned with, on and off the court. In order to maintain that reputation though they sacrifice a great deal – giving up the opportunity to choose their own schedules, do homework before 7 pm, have a little downtime, and cutting down on time spent with family during breaks. Grace makes it clear that the time and energy she pours into both of her passions make the sacrifice and her scholarship all the more worthwhile.
The women’s basketball team has had another spectacular season, proving that Grace’s focus has paid off. Wrapping the season with a 22-8 record, a 10-game winning streak to open the season, defeating powerhouse Duke by nine points in November. Now, Grace and her Wildcats head into the Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament as a 9-seed facing University of South Dakota State March 16 at 7:30 pm EST at University of Notre Dame. As the women enter the big dance, Grace’s knack for sinking three-pointers is propelling the team forward to another exciting finish. Grace has many favorite memories from the season, but it’s likely their trip to the tournament will rank high on her list.
Many of her future goals, Grace says, are guided by the support of her parents and teammates, “All they cared about was that I was happy, did the best I could, and most importantly that I knew they loved me no matter what happened in my life. Their support through the ups and downs is what keeps me going.”
After the basketball season wraps, Grace plans to pursue a summer externship in her home state of New Jersey, to give herself a new challenge in a Critical Care Unit. Someday, the basketball standout hopes to work in a NICU and eventually attend graduate school to pursue an advanced degree, and perhaps even become a nurse anesthetist.
The future looks bright for Grace, as she remains focused on conquering her daily challenges, patient with her progress, and passionate about her future, all with one foot in Driscoll Hall and the other on the court.