AUSTIN, Texas—She wanted to play college volleyball and she wanted to be an engineer. They said she’d never get it all done. As a mechanical engineer, her dad knew the demands of the degree. He worried his overachieving daughter had finally bit off more than she could chew. Along with her high school teachers and college professors, all discouraged her. The curriculum is too difficult and college sports are too demanding, they said.
She did it anyway.
In the end, Dana Lockwood, a 6’2″ native of Kingwood, will graduate in architectural engineering with honors. In fact, she is one of nearly 6,000 UT Austin students graduating this spring. The University’s evening Commencement ceremonies are scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday (May 22) on the South Terrace of the Main Building.
Her 50 hours a week playing UT varsity volleyball included the thrill of having the team earn a Final Eight tournament berth three times, as well as earning a final national ranking of second in NCAA competition.
She also became president of the engineering honors society, recruited students as a student ambassador, mentored first-year engineering students, and volunteered each semester at the Capital Area Food Bank. She became a Texas LeaderShape graduate in 1997, served as a 1998 LeaderShape student cluster leader and in 1999 helped raise $110,000 to hold additional LeaderShape conferences.
She also coached at-risk elementary school students in basic volleyball skills through the athletics department and convinced the College of Engineering to sponsor a camp for them once a semester. She was a member-at-large of the Student Engineering Council and a member of Phi Alpha Epsilon, the architectural engineering honor society. This year, she received the Darrell Royal Unrestricted Presidential Scholarship, a University-wide award.
How did she do it? “By planning ahead,” says Lockwood. “During volleyball season my calendar was scheduled to the half-hour in my daily planner. I planned everything but sleep. Sleep came when it came.”
While Lockwood’s high school career included a strong volleyball and academic record, collegiate athletics proved different. “I had to learn quickly the pace and lifestyle of collegiate volleyball. I learned on road trips I couldn’t concentrate on anything but volleyball, which compressed my study time further.”
The sport also confronted Lockwood with a new set of skeptics. “It wasn’t always fun going into class the first day and giving your professor a sheet of paper that says you’re going to miss (several) of his classes,” she recalls.
“But by the close of the semester, the professors respected you when you became one of their top students, and they knew you had to work harder because you weren’t there all the time.”
Besides upsetting Stanford two years in a row, once to make it to the NCAA championship game, Lockwood’s fondest college memory was the Tau Beta Pi volleyball tournaments she organized and initiated.
Lockwood will become an analyst consultant for Andersen Consulting after graduation. If she plays volleyball, “it will be recreational, with friends.”
With a picture perfect college academic and athletic career behind her, is there anything she would have changed? “The few things that could have been changed have been outweighed by all the things that went right. God has a great reason for everything and He’s filled my life with fun and achievements. I can’t complain so far.”