Barrett junior and international student-athlete Lieske Carleer embracing challenges in academics and athletics

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October 4, 2021

Lieske Carleer’s ambitions are to play professional soccer and complete a master’s degree. She’s on her way to fulfilling both as a student-athlete in Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University. 

She is a junior kinesiology major and a defender on the Sun Devil women’s soccer team. 

Carleer, an international student from Winterswijk, Netherlands, began playing soccer when she was five years old. Before coming to ASU in 2019, she was the captain of the Dutch U17 National Team and a starter for the U19 squad.

Carleer was looking for a challenge when she found Barrett, The Honors College. 

“I just thought it would be a good challenge for me,” she said. “I wanted to develop my writing skills, because as an international student, English is not my first language.” 

Carleer took time out from her busy schedule to tell us how she decided to come to ASU and what it’s like to balance academics and athletics. Here’s what she had to say. 

How did you decide to attend ASU and Barrett, The Honors College? 

I first got in contact because of soccer with the coaching staff of the women’s soccer team here at ASU. I really liked the coaches and the program, so that’s how I first looked at ASU. Then, I started to explore what would be an opportunity for my school and my academic development.  

Of course, I wanted to be in the health field, so I looked at the College of Health Solutions. Then, I learned about the Honors College, and I saw Barrett as a good challenge, especially with the Human Event during the first year. I developed my writing, speaking and listening skills within that class, and that was a good challenge for me as an incoming freshman. In the end I’m glad I did it, but it was a tough class. 

Is it beneficial to be a Barrett student? How have you benefited? 

The Human Event has been super helpful to develop my skills in English and how to structure essays. You learn things in your typical English classes, but the Human Event really goes in-depth on how to write, how to get your argument across, and how to back up your argument. 

Besides the Human Event, one of the most beneficial things for me has been doing honors contracts. I love having that extra project and getting that connection with your professor. I’ve already made connections with professors that I’ve done further work with on different projects. I think making those connections and doing those extra projects can really help you benefit inside and outside of the class. I don’t really have time to just take honors classes because my schedule is already packed with my regular classes and soccer, so honors contracts are easier to fit in. 

Have you begun your honors thesis? What is the focus of your thesis project? 

I am defending my thesis this November; I’m working on it right now with a teammate. Our thesis project came from an honors contract that we did in fall 2020. We had this contract on psychosocial aspects of physical activity, so like the psychology behind exercise and how it motivates people and the effect of exercise on people’s mental well-being. 

We did a project where we gathered some data, did a data analysis, and got some models to see if they worked in general and if they worked in an athlete population. The results were about increasing mood because of exercise. We had collected data before and after a soccer practice on people’s mood and how they felt before and after. 

The theory was that you exercise and then you feel better about yourself, so your mood will increase, but we saw that over time, there was a decrease in that effect, it slowly died down over time. We were thinking, okay what could cause this? 

Then, we thought, maybe people are burnt out from exercise. Our professor that we worked with pointed out that that could be a great thesis topic. With our thesis, we are looking into burnout among athletes, and how identity and motivation and burnout relate. It is both athletic burnout and student burnout, and it is interesting to see if there are relations between them. 

How do you balance being an athlete and an honors student? 

Of course, I am very busy with soccer in the mornings from 7-12, and then I must plan out my classes in the afternoon. I usually don’t do honors classes, because the scheduling is harder with only having availability in the afternoons, which is why I do honors contracts more. 

It’s all about being efficient with my time. I schedule my classes close together at the beginning of the week, so Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are usually very busy. Later in the week is when I usually travel for soccer since we have Thursday and Sunday games. Thursday and Friday will have fewer classes, which gives me more time to set up meetings and do extra work for honors contracts. I do have one Thursday class and one Friday class, and I do miss those classes on weeks that I travel, so I usually talk to the professor and ask what I can do to make it up. It is important to be proactive in your communication about missing classes, like making sure to talk to your professors. 

What are your future goals and how will being a Barrett, The Honors College student help you attain them? 

I want to get my master’s degree at some point and having Barrett on my applications can help. The experience that I have built over these last couple of years with honors contracts and with having those extra responsibilities and scheduling can really help me later overall in my academics, and in work later. I’m not 100% sure what I want to get my master’s in, but it will be something in the health field, something that builds on kinesiology. 

If you were speaking with a student-athlete who was thinking about attending ASU and Barrett Honors College, what would you tell them? 

I would tell them that it is challenging, but it is beneficial. You must be up for a challenge, and you must be committed to making it work because it is not something you just breeze through, but you will have a lot of benefit from it later in your career. 

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

As a freshman in Human Event, make use of the office hours. I went to office hours a lot. It is important to put in the work and going to office hours allows you to make a connection with your professor. 

Story by Barrett, The Honors College student Lily Barrera

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