As captain of the women’s volleyball team at Stonehill, Sophia Poveda ’21 was a force with whom to be reckoned, regularly posting impressive numbers of aces, kills and digs. But her motivation for excelling was as much about helping others as it was about personal bests.

Partially deaf since age 16, Poveda wanted her success to empower others who may be tempted to consider their impairment as limiting their potential.

“I want them to remember that they are just as capable as anyone else,” said Poveda, whose teammates and coaches learned to use hand signals over shouting when calling plays. “Having a disability or impairment doesn’t mean you are any less capable.”

Poveda addresses her classmates during Commencement.

Poveda certainly proved her capability not only on the court, but also in the classroom and around campus, winning countless academic and athletic honors while also serving as a peer mentor and teaching assistant. It’s a big part of why she was chosen as senior class speaker for her graduation. “Throughout my four years, I have taken classes that have challenged me academically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually,” she said during her speech that day. 

There is a strong student-athlete culture at Stonehill, and few schools can match the College’s commitment to ensuring that success on the field doesn’t come at the expense of athletes’ success in the classroom.

It’s a combination of coaches committed to holding their athletes accountable for achieving academic success and professors willing to participate in a support network dedicated to the academic development of Stonehill’s athletes.

Michel-Ange Siaba ’21 was named the Northeast-10 Conference Man of the Year during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Academic Services would check on me and show support for whatever I was doing,” said track standout Michel-Ange Siaba ’21, who was the 2021 NCAA Northeast-10 Conference’s Man of the Year and graduated with a 3.88 cumulative grade point average as a criminology major. “I think it takes a high level of coaching and teaching experience to draw out someone’s full potential, and that’s what happened with me.”

“Professors go to great lengths to accommodate the schedules of student-athletes, and coaches understand the rigors of the students’ workload and hold them as accountable in the classroom as they do on the field,” said Nate Marcoulier ’18, who played on Stonehill’s club golf team.

The benefits of that commitment are often seen in the opportunities that arise for Stonehill’s scholar-athletes after graduation.

Poveda is now an analyst with the global information technology company Accenture. Siaba is currently pursuing his juris doctorate at Suffolk Law School and Marcoulier is a strategist at Dell Technologies.

They represent a few of the many ways in which graduates answer Stonehill’s oft-repeated question: How will you lead?

“As Stonehill graduates, I know we will all lead with light and hope,” said Poveda at her commencement, “and leave this campus a little brighter than when we first found it.”