College of Education > News and Publications > News: Oct. - Dec. 2010 > Ambition on the Football Field and in the Classroom

Ambition on the Football Field and in the Classroom

Senior Stefen Wisniewski discusses how he is able to maintain balance between his secondary education major and playing as a Penn State Nittany Lion right guard.

by Marilyn Perez (December 2010)

Stefen Wisniewski—offensive lineman for the Nittany Lion football team, Schreyer honors scholar, and senior in secondary education—attributes each aspect of his well-rounded success at Penn State to maintaining a steadfast perseverance.

“I’m constantly looking at myself and saying, ‘What am I not doing well? What could I be doing better?’ and I work at it and move on to the next thing,” Wisniewski said. “It’s about being constantly in pursuit of perfection and getting better and being the best that you can be with the talents you were given.”

After Wisniewski graduates in December, he plans to attend a training facility until the 2011 National Football League Draft in April. He has considered going somewhere warm like Florida for training because, well, “why not?”

As far as an NFL home base, he said he’d like to play for a team that is not too far from home. A football career is his primary focus right now, but Wisniewski said he sees himself teaching one day in the future.

A native of Pittsburgh, Wisniewski participated in the College’s Professional Development School, a partnership with the State College Area School District that provides student teachers with a rigorous yearlong teaching internship. He taught English at State College High School from August 2009 until June 2010. His mentor was Jeffrey King, an English teacher who has been at the high school for nine years.Wisniewski.jpg

“I would hope that Stefen pursues teaching when his playing days are done,” King said. “He would be an excellent coach and teacher. We need more solid people like him in this profession who will bring out the best in kids.”

King described Wisniewski as an approachable teacher, which he said is one of the most valuable assets a teacher can possess. He added that students really got a kick out of seeing a “huge football player” reading something like Lady Macbeth.

Wisniewski recognizes the fact that males in English education are few and far between.

“As far as English teachers go, it’s a predominantly female subject area,” he said. “I think being a male and trying to be a male role model as a high school English teacher is definitely a big thing.”

While he laughed and said he wasn’t sure if the only reason the students liked him was because he played football, Wisniewski knows he loves teaching high school-aged students.

“I love that age group; there’s a lot of energy, and they’re always trying to have fun,” said Wisniewski. “It makes you, as a teacher, have energy and have fun with things.”

Wisniewski currently has a 3.9 GPA, and he has recently been named a National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame Scholar, which awards $18,000 for postgraduate studies. In November he was named the first Penn State football student-athlete to earn ESPN Academic All-America honors three times, and the American Football Coaches Association named Wisniewski a first-team All-American.

These are just a few of many awards he has been recognized for over the years. While he is honored, he said, “I feel like the reason that God gave me this platform of being a Penn State football player is to use it for his Kingdom. So every time I get an opportunity, I just love to do that.”

He has participated in extracurricular activities ranging from the Student-Athlete Advisory Board’s Autism Awareness reading program, Habitat for Humanity, and the Second Mile. One of the most gratifying activities has been his participation with Athletes in Action, a Christian athletes group on campus. With the other group members, he speaks at different churches and youth groups.

Wisniewski said he wasn’t always very religious, but he truly started pursuing faith after his senior year in high school. While in college, he has traveled to the Dominican Republic twice where he helped build a church for a local village, played sports with children, shared the gospel, and “had a blast.”

Wisniewski is currently working on his honors thesis, which discusses character education and how to use teaching to develop the morality of students.

As time rolls closer to his graduation in December, Wisniewski can confidently say he has enjoyed every aspect of his time spent at Penn State, and he will hold his memories fondly.

“Football is awesome; I’ll definitely miss home games,” said Wisniewski. “The stuff I do with the community and church is awesome. Student teaching was great. Hanging out with my friends is awesome; I love my friends. I just love the whole thing.”