Abdul Yassine - Biology Student and Soccer Player

  • Name Abdul Yassine

  • Education Senior Biology Student at Southern Methodist University Hometown: Garland, TX
  • Target Audience Elementary School, Middle School, High School, and Undergraduate

Abdul Yassine is a senior biology major and soccer player at Southern Methodist University. He is a strong believer of time management and organization. Read his story to see how balances soccer and biology! 

Why did you choose your major? Did you always know this is what you wanted to do?   

In high school, bio was something that I was really passionate about. Coming into college, I still wasn’t sure that was what I wanted to do, but once I came to college, I took the intro to biology class, and it made me realize I really liked it, and I could see myself doing something related to that in the future. Also, my dad is in the medical field – he’s a medical technologist, and he supported me in that as well. My sister is in residency – she finished medical school two years ago, so it’s also in the family as well, but it was something I really, really enjoyed in high school as well. When I was getting ready for college, I looked back at high school and thought about what I liked, and biology was something that really stood out to me from the other subjects. I knew that I wanted to do biology or something related to biology, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do or what track I wanted to go into. I wanted to do something in medicine, but not specifically medical school, so as college went on and I got exposed to more things – when I started volunteering at the hospital, my sister got further in the medical field, and I got to see more of what she was doing – seeing her really inspired me to go through it as well, so that helped a lot. My 2nd or 3rd year of college was when I realized I wanted to try and go to medical school, so coming in, I did not know what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do something science related, but I didn’t know what route I wanted to go. 


What is your main role on your team?   

Soccer has been a roller coaster ride for me. I am a senior currently, but I will also be here next fall for my red shirt season. There’s been a lot of ups and downs – I’ve had 5 knee surgeries in the past 5 years, so really for me, when I’ve been playing, it’s been the best thing in my life. I’m currently one of the older players, as a senior, and younger kids – freshmen and sophomores – really look up to the older players. I remember when I first came, a lot of things I looked up to the older players to see how they were good athletes and managed school. That’s really what I try to do to now – I try to be a good example for the younger kids, so even on the field with things like soccer technique and training, but even on the field with how to go about their studies. Yes, social life is big in college, but you have to be able to manage your schoolwork no matter what you’re studying, so I really try to be a good example for the younger kids. Soccer wise, I try my best to be the best I can on the field, and I lead them like that. Off the field, I’m the person they come up to if they have questions or need class advice. 

What does your average day look like? (Class, practice, games, etc.) 

We train every morning – we’re in the locker room by 7:30 AM, and train until about 10:15, then we shower. The first classes we can sign up for are at 11 AM. For me, I have soccer in the morning, then I have class, and then I work as well – I work as a tutor in the A-LEC. I work from about 2 to about 6 or 7, but the good thing about that is that when you don’t have students to tutor, you can work on homework as well. I get a lot of my work done there as well. After that, I try to finish my work until 10 or 10:30, and then I call it a night by 11 PM max, and I try to be in bed by 11:30 to get ready for my next day of school – that’s how my weekdays are. My weekends, especially right now, I’m currently studying for the MCAT, and I take a class online right now, so my weekends are really busy right now. On Saturday mornings, I volunteer at Methodist Hospital in Richardson. I do that for 4 hours on Saturday mornings, and on Sundays, I volunteer at a place called City House. It’s an emergency transition home for kids in need whose parents are going through legal troubles, so the kids are usually there for a couple of months, and I mentor them and work with them so they have someone to be there with them, and it means the world to them to have older people to look up to and play with. The rest of the day on Saturdays and Sundays, I usually study for the MCAT I’m taking in May – it’s getting really close. It’s really busy right now for me. It’s actually probably the most important time of my life right now because the MCAT is one of the most important things medical schools look at. In May, medical school applications open up, so that’s when I’m going to apply. That’s how my life is right now – it’s pretty hectic, but I know it’ll be worth it in the long run, and that’s what motivates me. 

Do you apply what you learn in the classroom on the field?

Yes. Soccer and school both have similarities. The discipline you need to have for both is the same. You need to be able to focus in both just as much. In training sessions, even though it’s morning and you’re tired, you have to give your full attention to it because every detail matters. In soccer, after we play games, we break down the video of the game and we see what we’re wrong in. For example, we see if one of our defenders was half a step away from getting to the other player and that’s what made the other team score. This is the same for class – you have to give your full attention, and you have to study when you’re out of class. That’s what you need to do to get the good grades and be successful. I think they go hand-in-hand, and there’s definitely some similarities that apply to both. 


What's been your biggest sacrifice trying to do it all (school, sports, family, etc.)?

 So, with me especially because I work as well, I do have time to hang out with my friends but not as much as a regular student would. Early on in college, I had a bit more free time because I didn’t have the MCAT to worry about, but I was still studying a lot and working. This year, especially has been a huge sacrifice. I still get to see my family – they live in Garland, Texas which is only about 25 minutes away, so I still get to see them on the weekends. Hanging out with friends and a social life is something I know I have to sacrifice right now because of the time I have to put into my school work, but my closest friend is also pre-med and wanting to go to medical school, so he’s going through the same thing. It’s nice that we’re all busy, and we all know what each of us is going through, so it helps us get through it, but I think it is definitely doable to balance it. You need to make a schedule every day with everything you want to get done. It’s definitely doable.   

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?  

Hopefully, I want to almost be done training to be a doctor. It’s four years of medical school and whatever field you do residency for. Hopefully, I can be a successful doctor by then, have a family, have some kids maybe. I just want to be settled down by then and have all this past me. That’s where I hope all this hard work will pay off. 

Do you have any suggestions for how kids can balance STEM interests and music interests?

 It is definitely 100% doable. Sports takes up a lot of time and a lot of energy, and that is kind of tough because once you get to class, you’re tired. You may not have the energy some days to get through it, but you will. You will have the time. In college, the nice thing is that you get to choose your classes and your schedule. There’s always time to get a nap in the day, but my best advice is time management. Time management is 100% the most important. I know that’s very cliché, but really it’s crucial in college. You think and you go about your day, and before you know it, half of your day is gone. That’s why you need to start every day with a plan. Do your work; take breaks while you’re doing it, so you don’t crash, but time management – 100% is the most important thing. 

Do you have any courses you can recommend students to take before college?

When I was in high school, I did a dual credit program where I would take classes at a community college that was next to my high school, so that was really nice because I got a feel for college – not a university, but I got a feel of something close to university classes, so that really helped, so I knew that I wanted to do something science related. I took an introduction to biology class there as well, and a chemistry 1 as well, and those helped me out not only just when I got here, but also they confirmed what I had already thought I wanted to do. Some kids don’t have the opportunity to do that dual credit, but what you can do is the summer before you get to college, you can take classes related to the field you think you want to go into, and that can give you a perspective of what that looks like. You can also do what I did – I met with advisors before I came into the university the summer before, and I remember specifically speaking with an advisor about really liking biology but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. She led me through what to do, and recommended starting off with the introduction to biology course to see how I liked that, and if I liked that, I could move on with that. If I didn’t like it, I could change my major. I was fortunate enough to not have to change my major, but I personally know a lot of friends that came into college and thought they wanted to do something but switched – and you can do that. There’s always time to change, but it would help if you start from the beginning just so you can stay on track, so a good thing to do is to take a class at a community college and definitely take advantage of the advisors – there’s always pre-major advisors that help out.

What was your favorite class growing up?  

Early on, I really enjoyed math. Math was something I was really passionate about, but then it switched over to biology when I got to high school. My 9th grade biology teacher gave me really good explanations when I went to go see her for extra tutoring. She was one of my inspirations to do a biology major.  

Are you a first generation college student?

No – my parents both have bachelor’s degrees. 

When did you start playing soccer?

I started playing soccer when I was 5 years old - I grew up playing soccer. I played a little basketball as well, but it was mainly soccer. 

What's a fun fact about you?

On the soccer team, I’m one of the more outgoing guys. I’m kind of known as the funny guy on the team. I’m the jokester of the team. I always try to be in a good, happy mood – I try to mess with people a lot, so that’s kind of what I’m known as on the team. 

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