Purdue Calumet Graduate Excels in Lab & on Soccer Field

Shmagranoff-Rachel-w-petri-dish-01Her smile is perpetual. So has been her commitment to excellence, as well as a belief that most anything supported by hard work and determination is attainable.

Meet Rachel Shmagranoff of Munster—Dean’s List student, aspiring bio-remediation researcher, soccer standout and soon-to-be Purdue University Calumet alumna.

By her own admission, her three and a half years on campus since graduating from Munster High School have been a blur. But for someone who enjoys staying busy, that’s a good thing.

Microbiology major graduating Thursday (12/18)
Being a straight A student in microbiology who will receive a Chancellor’s Medallion during Purdue Calumet Commencement Exercises Thursday (12/18) as the top graduating senior in the university’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science is impressive enough.

So is having participated in scholarly research since her freshman year—receiving several grants and earning opportunities to present at various regional and national ecology conferences.

But also finding time to captain this fall’s Purdue Calumet women’s soccer team and become the university’s first student-athlete to be named 1st Team Academic All-America, as recognized by the College Sports Information Directors of America and Capital One, pretty much epitomizes what can happen when ability, hard work and determination come together.

‘Determined to work to get it’
“I’ve always been someone who, whenever I see something I want, I am determined to work to get it,” the 21-year-old Munster resident said.

She credits much of her high octane drive to her parents, Chris and Therese, both Purdue Calumet alumni. That her older brother, Alek, also is a graduate and one of two younger siblings is enrolled at the Hammond university as well, Rachel’s decision to attend Purdue Calumet was hardly surprising.

“I knew I’d get a good education here,” she said. “The professors are awesome and so knowledgeable. Plus, the farther along in the program you go, the smaller the classes become, which means students get more individualized attention.”

Made most of soccer opportunity
What she did not expect when she arrived at Purdue Calumet was to continue a soccer career she enjoyed in high school.

“I was ready to move on and focus on my college academics,” she said.

But with Purdue Calumet introducing a women’s soccer program her sophomore year, she impressed coach Leslie Ferguson with her play as a freshman in the campus intramural league. Subsequently, Ferguson invited Shmagranoff—“Shmags” as her coaches and teammates refer to her—to try out for the team, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Along with lengthy days of study, labs, classwork and research, she embraced a disciplined regimen of athletic training. The result? She led her Purdue Calumet soccer Peregrines in scoring and minutes played this past fall, while also earning all-conference and multiple-scholar-athlete honors.

‘Outstanding role model’
“Shmags is the ideal definition of a student-athlete; the dedication she has shown on and off the field has been incredible to witness,” Ferguson said. “She is an individual who has a great grasp on balancing her education, athletics, volunteer hours and social life. She is an outstanding role model—the type of individual a coach would like to clone.”

Aside from making her wedding plans, she is leaving her future options open for the time being. While she says graduate school is in her future, she first is exploring job opportunities in research science.

“I’m confident everything is going to work out,” she said. “Looking back at everything I’ve done here at Purdue Calumet, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”