Collage of graduation pictures
Forward Thinking
Trinity soccer star juggles award-winning research, trips abroad, and academic excellence

Whether it’s on the soccer field, in a research lab, or crossing international boundaries, Molly Sheridan’s life at Trinity has always been about looking forward to the next big thing.

Sheridan ’23 is a political science and business double major from St. Louis, Missouri, who’s chosen a path at Trinity that’s kept her on her toes. When she’s not pouring in goals from the center-forward spot as a captain for Trinity’s nationally contending soccer team, she’s staring down global problems like food accessibility. The result of all that hard work? Winning awards like an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, for starters.

“[Receiving] this award [brought] a lot of really good feelings—a kind of recognition for all the hard work that I've done and all the different balls that I've been juggling in the air,” Sheridan says.”

Not only is this a big deal for our soccer team and the athletics department but also for Trinity as a whole. This type of award goes to the University as well because there are so many things I do as a Division III student-athlete at Trinity that you just can’t do elsewhere.”

Sheridan (left) received All-American academic and athletic honors this year, alongside fellow Trinity soccer captain Bailey Meyer '22.

An NCAA Postgraduate scholarship gives a senior $10,000 for use in an accredited graduate program. Only 126 students-athletes in the nation across all three NCAA divisions receive this award every year.

 Yet Sheridan’s score represents the fifth straight year the Tigers have had a student-athlete earn the award. To boot, Sheridan is the third Trinity women's soccer player to be named a scholarship recipient in the past five years. Fellow players Lindsey Peng ’21  and Chelsea Cole ’19  were the other two winners.

And that’s not all for Sheridan: She’s headed out to the prestigious Coro Fellowship civic leadership program in St. Louis next year, then plans on using her scholarship at a dual law and master’s degree public health program afterwards.

How do students like Sheridan keep netting these types of successes?

Even for a soccer forward, success at Trinity is all about who has your back

Sheridan eyes the goal during the 2022 postseason.

Finding a Path

Ever since Sheridan’s first visit to campus, she’s found a supportive environment at Trinity. Seeking a warmer environment to play soccer in than Missouri, Sheridan first heard about Trinity through family in Dallas and scheduled a visit. 

“I remember going into the locker room, and there were five girls studying together right there, and I was like, ‘OK, this is what I wanna be a part of,’” Sheridan laughs. “A place that's serious about soccer and serious about school.”

Anyone who knows Sheridan as a teammate knows that she’s serious about giving that support right back. And this attitude spills over into her academic interests, too.

Sheridan is interested in a career in public interest law, specifically in public health policy centering around food-related issues. Her motivation behind this goal stems from seeing a close family member struggle with an eating disorder and going through extensive treatment. 

Since then, Sheridan has wanted to find a way to help others dealing with these types of issues. She just didn’t know what path would take her there. At first, she thought the way was through Trinity’s Neuroscience program.

“Then I came to school, took a few of those science classes and realized that I couldn't really sit back and just do research,” Sheridan says. “I needed to be advocating for things, and I needed to be figuring out how to change some of the different social systems that determine access people have to healthcare systems.”

Trinity’s liberal arts curriculum gives students like Sheridan the flexibility and the support to find unexpected paths towards their passions. And Sheridan found hers after taking a health, illness, and society class during her first-year spring semester with sociology professor Benjamin Sosnaud, Ph.D., that led her (through sociology) into the worlds of political science and global health.

Since this turning point, Sheridan’s path has taken her into extensive research on food-related issues. “I've done a few projects on female college athletes with eating disorders, and then that has kind of manifested into a couple different research projects with my political science advisor, Dr. Rosa Aloisi,” Sheridan says. “I've even done research on a woman's right to breastfeed during humanitarian crises.”

As if juggling this research and academic path with soccer wasn’t enough, Sheridan has also found time to get the most out of an extensive set of experiential opportunities at Trinity. 

At Trinity, Molly Sheridan '23 has blended an international approach to her studies with being a student athlete.

She spent a semester studying abroad across Geneva, Switzerland and  Zagreb, Croatia in Spring 2022, as part of a Global Health and Development Policy program, where she interacted with U.N. agencies and learned about comparative public health systems within the framework of humanitarian action, human rights, and social justice.

And she’s also the president of the Spurs Sorority, serves as a Trinity University Student Government Association senator, and participated in a successful internship at AHC Consulting LLC in St. Louis in Summer 2022 as a public relations consulting intern.

This internship is part of Trinity’s Arts, Letters, and Enterprise Program, a unique Trinity initiative that matches students from liberal arts backgrounds to business and nonprofit environments and has expanded its network to places like St. Louis thanks to the University's strong and expanding alumni network.

Balancing these priorities takes a lot of support. And Sheridan says she’s gotten it from a familiar source.

Sheridan (front) has taken multiple trips abroad, including this trip to Uzbekistan in spring 2023 with Dr. Jacob Tingle '95

Faculty With the Assist

Across these seemingly countless opportunities, Sheridan says she found a support system of faculty that helped her hone in on her passions.

In the fields of global health and in the preparations for a law degree, Sheridan says faculty were the right blend of challenging and nurturing.

“Being at Trinity, I've had an opportunity to uncover some interests and passions that I have thanks to some really, really amazing professors who have taught me that although the public interest law field can be kind of daunting, even if I help one person find those supportive networks they need, then I'll still be making a difference.”

Sheridan points specifically to political science professor Rosa Aloisi, Ph.D., her faculty adviser, for her support. “She has done a wonderful job of fostering my interests. We took this one thing— food—and then starting off with that interest in eating disorders, we moved through different perspectives towards the right to food, then international law, and then how food impacts people during humanitarian crises. Dr. Aloisi really helped me understand the magnitude of my interests.”

“She's been super challenging and also at the same time very supportive of everything that I've tried to do,” Sheridan adds. “And that’s how it is at Trinity. You just kind of stumble into meeting amazing faculty.”

Sheridan also stumbled into meeting business administration professor Jacob Tingle ’95, Ed.D. “He connected me with my internship in St. Louis this past summer, and from that we developed this amazing partnership. And then he took me on a sports diplomacy trip to Uzbekistan this spring,” Sheridan says. “At Trinity, you stumble into meeting a professor because you connect on a similar passion that you have, and then they follow through with all of these amazing opportunities for you.” 

Tingle was eventually the professor who Sheridan credits with her opportunity to apply for the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. 

“The professors and the faculty here see that small spark of interest in you,” she says, “and then continually guide and connect you to every next step that there is.”

Sheridan, second from left, with her soccer teammates after winning the SCAC conference champtionship.

Team Effort

As a student-athlete, Sheridan is also fueled by this level of support on the soccer field.

Sheridan has earned multiple Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Player of the Week awards, and was named the 2022 SCAC Offensive Player of the Year, scoring a career-high 19 goals this season and moving into the top 10 in school history in both career points (121) and career goals (48). She is a four-time All-SCAC honoree and 2022 was her third straight year to be listed on the First Team. The St. Louis native was also named a United Soccer Coaches First Team All-American and a Scholar All-American for the 2022 season after being named to the All-Region First Team.

All the more impressive when you note that Sheridan struggled to earn playing time early in her career. But she says coach Dylan Harrison and her teammates pushed her until she was ready to shine.

“Coach Harrison uses me as his perfect example of a player coming in who didn't play the whole game as a freshman, but worked hard. By the end of my freshman year, I was getting that playing time, and I was getting those starting opportunities,” Sheridan says. “Individually, that's what I'm most proud of, coming in and finding that footing and then getting to grow a little bit more each year, especially with the older people that were in my position.”

And Harrison’s support isn’t confined to the four white lines around the soccer field.

My coach let me study abroad—that’s not something that happens at a DI school,” Sheridan says. “He fostered and supported me being involved in so many other things. He even sat me down right after I got captain for senior year and asked, ‘So, you want to tell me what else you're involved in for senior year?’ And I was like, ‘Well, I'm gonna be president of Spurs,’ and listed all these other things. And he just said, ‘Well, I know you can handle it, so I'm not worried about that.’”

“That is just such a unique perspective for a coach to have, especially compared to some other schools where they tell you, ‘Here, you can major in these three things,’”she adds. 

And the same types of teammates that Sheridan saw studying in the locker room during her first visit to Trinity work just as hard as to support one another as they do to win championships.

“I really was drawn to Trinity [because of] the supportive nature of the team that I saw [when I visited], and that is truly [how] we are now,” Sheridan says of the soccer program. “It's so uncommon for a team to love everyone, especially when there's 30-plus girls, and we genuinely all get along so well. It became a really positive environment for me, and that obviously was the number one reason why we had success on the field.”

So, when Sheridan says her successes—NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships in particular—are a team result at Trinity, she means it.

“I feel a lot of gratitude for what I’ve been able to do here at Trinity,” Sheridan says. “[I’m] super excited, super proud, and just ... [have] a ton of gratitude for all of the amazing people [I’ve met] throughout my time at Trinity.” 

 

Jeremiah Gerlach is the brand journalist for Trinity University Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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