The (all-star) science of soccer

How biology student, Ajay Khabra, balanced the ball and the books.

Luis Carlos Flores - 6 June 2018

"In choosing the U of A, I considered the quality of both the academic and the athletic programs. Both are renowned," says the winner of the President's Trophy Ajay Khabra.

The Faculty of Science congratulates one of its newest alumni, Ajay Khabra (BSc in biology/psychology), winner of the President's Trophy, which recognizes him as an outstanding athlete, leader, and role model. An Academic All-Canadian student, Khabra was also awarded as Golden Bears' Most Valuable Player.

Reflecting on his experience at the Faculty of Science, Khabra tells us about his future plans and shares insight into how to succeed simultaneously at science and sport.

What brought you to the University of Alberta?

Edmonton is my home, so I was always excited to be part of the University of Alberta. In choosing the U of A, I considered the quality of both the academic and the athletic programs. Both are renowned. Academically, the quality and variety of courses are great. In regards to sports, the Golden Bears soccer program, led by coach Len Vickery, has a rich history of excellence.

How was your experience at the Faculty of Science?

My undergraduate experience at the Faculty of Science was second to none. The Faculty helped me thrive by allowing me to take a variety of courses with focus on both theoretical and experiential knowledge. I attended classes that I was naturally interested in, and I also expanded my horizons by taking classes that were novel to me.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

During my time at the Faculty of Science, my biggest challenge was balancing life, studies, and soccer. Time management became crucial. All in all, being passionate for both my classes and soccer was the fuel that kept me going.

What was it like to receive the President's Trophy and to be voted team MVP?

I was immensely honoured to be recognized with the President's Trophy as an outstanding athlete, leader, and role model. It has been a privilege to wear the Golden Bears jersey.

Similarly, receiving the MVP award was incredibly meaningful because my teammates awarded me with this distinction. We all understand how much effort it takes to balance school and sports, so it means a lot to be recognized by my peers in this way.

How does your future look like?

In regards to soccer, I will continue playing at a competitive level for as long as I can. Academically, I plan to pursue a master's of science in physical therapy. I want to become a sports therapist.

I feel well prepared to achieve my future goals. The Faculty of Science helped me improve my analytical, practical, and social skills. I was forced to step outside of my comfort zone, for which I'm forever grateful.

What advice would you give future students in the Faculty of Science?

Don't be afraid, and get out of your comfort zone. Take different classes, explore your interests, and meet different people to truly get the most out of your experience. There are wonderful staff, facilities, and student groups on campus, so take advantage of being part of a great faculty.