Bioengineering student balances athletics and academic success


Bioengineering junior and student-athlete Laura Hodge saw George Mason University as a place for opportunities, and while she admits it sometimes can be hard to juggle her obligations, she believes she made the right choice.

Laura Hodge standing on the front porch of a white building. Facing the camera.
Laura Hodge is a bioengineering student and member of Mason's swimming and diving team. Photo provided.

A Blacksburg, Virginia native, Hodge is a swimmer on Mason’s swimming and diving team and an aspiring bioengineer. For her, Mason checked all the boxes for what she was looking for in a university.

“What drew me to Mason was the opportunity to be a part of different communities like the Honor’s College, the swim team, and the athletics department. I also knew that after graduating from Mason, the number of opportunities in the area would be tremendous,” says Hodge.

She hasn’t been disappointed. “My favorite part of Mason is all of the friendships and connections I’ve made. I’ve gotten the chance to meet amazing people who have inspired me.”

Bioengineering professors and classmates have opened her eyes to new areas of research. Many engaging professors in the Honors College have pushed her to succeed. And as a member of the swim team, she has gotten to meet like-minded athletes and fellow engineering majors.

Hodge hopes to be an inspiration for others. She is a student-athlete mentor, working with freshman and sophomore student-athletes to lead them through the college transition and teach them time management.

Her motivation has led her to academic success. For the past two years, Hodge has been awarded the Peter N. Stearns Provost Scholar Athlete award, which means she has maintained a 3.75 cumulative GPA.

“It can be overwhelming at times if you let it. Planning is key to keeping on top of things, and the strict schedules for swim keep me in check,” she says. This is what she advises her mentees to do to ensure academic success—make a schedule, stick to it, and keep looking forward.

COVID-19 has modified a lot of aspects of Hodge’s life. Canceled meets have changed her swimming season, and the safety precautions across campus have meant that almost all of her classes are virtual. But Hodge doesn’t let that get to her. “It was a change, for sure, but I think everyone has settled into a new routine. The whole world had to adjust, so I saw this as a lesson to learn.”

Hodge’s biggest piece of advice to incoming Mason students is this: “Find your communities early. It can be hard to get involved later, especially as an engineering major because your classes get harder.,” she says.

“And you never know what could happen.”