Lithia & Driveway Scholar Series

From the Softball Diamond to the Lab: Kierstin Grotewiel’s Journey in Science and Softball

Kierstin isn’t your average first year SOU student. While scouting the field as a catcher for SOU’s softball team, she’s also a dedicated Biology major, eager to learn the intricacies of the scientific discipline. Kierstin came to SOU not just for the academics, but because of the vibrant campus community that SOU offers to students. A feeling of home away from home was an important factor in her decision to attend SOU, as was playing on SOU’s NAIA champion softball team 

Balancing Studies & Athletics 

Looking back at high school, Kierstin takes pride in balancing a stellar 4.0 GPA with the demands of varsity softball all four years. It wasn’t easy, but her father, a former baseball catcher himself, instilled a never-give-up attitude in her. He even jokingly advised her against catching, but Kierstin, ever the independent spirit, forged her own path behind the plate. Further, Kierstin has continued that high achieving GPA here at SOU, earning a 4.0 in her first two quarter terms.  

Being part of a close-knit softball team for so long pushed Kierstin outside her comfort zone, a feeling that’s echoed into her first year at SOU. However, it’s a positive kind of discomfort. The Lithia & Driveway Scholar program, with its emphasis on academic and career support, has made her feel incredibly welcome. In fact, they’ve created a culture where asking for help is a sign of strength. Everyone in the program is approachable and encourages her to reach out for help, creating a welcoming environment where asking questions is easy. 

Kierstin SOU Softball LAD Scholar

Kierstin Grotewiel, SOU Softball Athlete

Embracing College Life 

Thriving in her new environment, Kierstin shares her favorite aspect of college life so far. She says,

“College has been amazing. The best part has been meeting all new people from totally different backgrounds than me. Growing up in the same place all my life, it’s been awesome to get out and experience new cultures and perspectives.” 

Kierstin has also had to learn emotional resilience. Letting go of negative relationships in high school was difficult, but it made her realize the importance of surrounding herself with positive people who support her growth. Her parents are a big influence as they instilled perseverance and determination in her by helping her to overcome obstacles without quitting.  

Kierstin says, “One thing that definitely sets me apart is my drive. No matter what the challenge is, whether it’s an assignment or a softball game, I find a way to push through. I hope my determination inspires others to dig deep and find their own inner strength too.” 

Scholarship Impact 

Kierstin dreams of working in a lab, using her scientific knowledge to make a real difference in the world. Scholarships like the one she received from Lithia & Driveway for first-year SOU students have been a game-changer.   

Kierstin explains, “It’s not just about taking the financial burden off my shoulders. It’s the validation of my hard work, especially because it wasn’t something I was expecting.”  

In fact, the scholarship has instilled a deeper sense of purpose in her. She says,

“I feel like I have something to live up to now. Since I’ve been given this opportunity, I’m determined to not disappoint the people who supported me. It’s a responsibility I take to heart, and I want to make the program proud.” 

Growth in STEM & Beyond 

Kierstin is already embracing the personal growth that comes with college. One of her biggest goals is to become more comfortable speaking up in class. Science thrives on communication, and she wants to be able to share her passion and collaborate with others. One day, she hopes to be work in the STEM field and live by the beach but for now, she’s content with studying science, perfecting her swing on the field, and exploring the beautiful SOU campus.  

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Kierstin SOU Softball Scholarship Impact Featured Image