May 6, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
– Today, we get down to the Bear Essentials, which equate to hard work.
When Shannon Bear showed up at Georgia Tech, she had high expectations not only as a softball player but also as an academian while coming off a 4.0 grade-point average at Grayson High.
The junior ranked fifth in her high school graduating class of 665, and picked up where she left off with a 4.0 in her first semester on The Flats.
With exactly one B in every semester since, her a 3.78 GPA in biochemistry was good enough to land a first team honors on the Capital One Academic All-District squad on Friday. Fellow outfielder Christy Jones, a senior, is on the second team.
Bear’s softball career on The Flats did not follow a similar track.
She had a modest 70 at-bats combined in her first two seasons. Persistence being her hallmark, she never stopped working and is having a breakout season while playing left field and at second base.
With a .304 batting average, nine home runs and 31 RBI, she’s rolling now.
She never stopped in the classroom, where she’s known from the jump that she wanted to go into pharmaceutical sciences (I think I got that phraseology right?).
“A family friend from a long time ago is a pharmacist now, and we visited in high school,” Bear said. “We talked about it and I thought that would be cool to do.”
Often more curious about the thought process than the decision, I asked the obvious: what is cool about it? What appeals?
“The thing that is really interesting to me is that there are so many things you can go into like you can as a doctor,” she said. “Being a doctor never appealed to be because I’m not into blood and sticking people.
“Plus, it’s a good career for someone who is going to eventually want a family. It’s really flexible, and you get paid well.”
Well, hard to argue any of that.
It turns out that Bear is studying a bunch of organic chemistry (ugh, flashback alert!) as it applies to metabolic processes within the body.
My brain hurts.
Bear, though, has a solid approach. It will surprise nobody that she’s extremely organized, and good at remaining on task.
“I think the most important thing for me is I pretty much don’t have an off day school-wise. There is something I’m doing every day to stay on track. Time management is huge, figuring out a little study plan for a week. I like to prioritize, like this test is really, really important for this class.
“If I start something I like to knock it out before moving onto the next thing.”
Breaking that protocol, Bear is in the process of lining up a summer internship of sorts. Hopefully she’ll work at a Rite-Aid pharmacy in her family’s new hometown of Peachtree City.
The plan is to graduate next spring, and she’s looking at post-graduate pharmacy programs. She’s going to take an on-line pharmacy course this summer.
“I’m not really one to be content with doing nothing,” Bear said. “I’m a learner. I love to do new things, and learn stuff so having a little time off [after the season] is going to be nice, but I’m also hoping to get a job in a pharmacy.”
In a way, Bear pays a price for her academic diligence; her social calendar is not exactly chocked full because her academic and athletic calendars are jammed.
That’s OK, she said. Softball takes care of that.
“I would say [her social life suffers] a little bit,” Bear said. “But it’s kind of good that I have softball because that’s my release. I don’t really mind it that much because I like my teammates and have fun with them.”
Bear is now eligible for Academic All-America honors. Also, baseball’s Jacob Esch earned similar academic laurels. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.