Ryan Brown is the captain of the Bryant Women’s Tennis Team, and beyond that, a pretty cool person.  I had a chance to sit down with Ryan last week and discuss her past four years at Bryant, and hear her reflect on her Bryant athletic career.  Born and raised in Austin, Texas Ryan will graduate with her Bachelors of Arts in applied psychology, with a concentration in applied statistics, and a double minor in economics and business admin.

While her introduction is admirable to say the least, I asked Ryan what words best describe her.  She choose “passionate, strong, driven, brilliant, and a feminist.”  If I had to add one in, I would say smart.  Last year she was named to the NEC Academic Honor Roll for the third time in her student athlete career.  She earned a 4.0 semester GPA and was also one of the 198 athletes in the entire NEC conference to be awarded the commissioner’s honor roll in 2015 spring sports.

As a senior, I wanted to know what Ryan’s favorite part of being a student here has been.  She pointed to, “the support and opportunities given to students by the faculty” as her fondest part of being a Bryant student.  She credits psychology department chair and professor, Dr. Nanci Weinberger, with much of her success academically at Bryant stating, “she is an amazing woman and has opened so many doors for me, and I cannot even begin to explain how much I appreciate her.”  Since Bryant is such a small school comparatively, it is easier for students and faculty to connect outside the classroom.  The bonds formed between faculty and students plays a large part in academic success at Bryant.

Transitioning into her athletic career at Bryant, Ryan said her favorite part of being a D1 athlete is having tennis as an outlet, and having the ability to compete at this level.  However, she said throughout her entire career her coaches and teammates have always focused on academics as well.  That balance has worked well she said, and was highlighted during her sophomore year.  To begin, Ryan became women’s tennis captain her sophomore year.  In addition, Ryan’s sophomore season was one of the best in Bryant women’s tennis history. The women’s team won their conference and qualified for the first round of NCAA, allowing them to fly to California and play Berkeley.  Ryan remembers it as one of the most incredible opportunities that she will always be grateful for.  To add to her accomplishments, she also was two time NEC Player of the week, and three time ECAC Player of the week that year.

I wanted to know what advice Ryan had to pass on to all incoming athletes.  She said it is important to focus on giving your all.  She highlighted how some of the most successful athletes, at Bryant or professional alike, are the first one to practice and the last one to leave.  She said the skill of being able to focus on “giving every team all that I had and really showing that I was dedicated has transitioned from tennis to academic research projects.”  From high school to beyond Ryan says the best thing any freshman can do is giving your whole self.  It is important to show early on that you are engaged and ready to help make a difference.

This fall Ryan will be starting her PhD at Rice University in Houston, Texas.  She will be pursuing her doctorate in Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience and conducting research with the Bio-behavioral Mechanisms Explaining Disparities Laboratory.  Her research will focus on stress and health, concentrating on how early life experiences can manipulate health outcomes.  While her direct future doesn’t involve a higher profession in tennis, Ryan is looking forward to a more relaxed lifestyle.  She dreams of acquiring a dog companion and playing fetch in the park every day.  I imagine living near the Austin based grocery store, Whole Foods, as it’s no secret this athlete loves spending time there.  It was a pleasure to get to speak with Ryan about her past and future.  There is no doubt that regardless of what the future holds she will be successful in it.  We wish Ryan the best of luck after graduation!

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A New York native, Laura Hayes is a senior graduating from Bryant University in just three years with her Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a double minor in Management and Women's Studies.