Feb. 28, 2013
Meghan Proehl first visited the University of Kansas in 2006 when she was recruited by diving head coach Eric Elliot. The moment she went back home to California, she immediately told her mom that she was coming to Lawrence to be a part of the Jayhawk tradition. During her time sporting the Crimson and Blue, Proehl accomplished many milestones. Her senior year she qualified for the NCAA Championships while also maintaining her team's highest GPA. Proehl graduated from KU's school of journalism in 2010 and is now a sixth-grade special education teacher in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Why did you decide to come to KU?
"I honestly initially came for KU's journalism school. I'm from California, which is definitely a long way from home, but I was able to come and visit the school on a recruiting trip for diving. When I came here for the visit I went to my first football game, and the girls and my coach were so amazing and so friendly. I couldn't believe how friendly people were in the Midwest. I went home after my recruiting trip and I told my mom `I'm going to go here', and I definitely do not regret it. I had only been diving since I was 16-years-old so Coach Eric (Elliott) really took a big chance on letting me onto the team."
What was your favorite part about being at KU?
"My favorite part about being at KU was probably the whole experience of being a Jayhawk. All the traditions that were involved, and how strongly everyone feels made it truly feel like we were a family. Being an athlete at the school was such an added bonus because it was like being a part of smaller family. I had so much support from the athletic department, and the journalism school, which was really important to me since I was from out of state. I always felt like I belonged here at KU."
What did you enjoy most about being a student-athlete?
"I loved my team. They were such amazing people, including my coaches. Coach Eric is like a second dad to me. He still sends me videos of his kids and we still keep in touch. I keep in touch with some of the girls on my team, which is priceless to me."
What was your most memorable moment while at KU?
"The most memorable moment for me at KU would probably have to be when I realized I qualified for the NCAA Championships. When the score flashed across the board and it showed that I was in sixth place, I knew that that would advance me on to the NCAA Championships. I cannot explain how much of an emotional charge that was. I came into KU basically as a walk-on, and the fact that my coach and I were able to get me to the NCAA Championships definitely counts as my most memorable moment."
What were your biggest accomplishments while in college?
"My biggest accomplishments would be getting the highest GPA award at our senior banquet. Academics were extremely important to me because I initially came to KU as a student. I also received the Athlete of the Year award my senior year that was presented to me at the senior banquet. My sophomore year I was named a member of the Big 12 Winter Good Works Team, which basically recognizes athletes for their community service, something that is really important to me. KU Athletics actually got me started on my community service path."
What have you been doing since graduation?
"After KU, I moved to New York City and I took a job at a pharmaceutical advertising agency. I worked there for a little over a year, and then I moved to a different advertising agency. I worked in advertising for a little over two years."
What is your current career?
"I realized later that I really missed helping people and I really missed working with kids, both of which I did a lot of while I was at KU. I then applied to a program called New York City Teaching Fellows, which is a program that recruits recent college graduates who do not have a background in education. I got accepted into the program and now I am a sixth-grade special education teacher. I teach children with severe autism, and I am also in a Master's program getting my Master's degree in childhood education and special education."
What is your favorite part about your job?
"My favorite part about my career, hands down, is my kids. Most of my kids cannot speak, or they can only say one word at a time. Some of them can't write and they have a lot of behavioral challenges. They have come so far and even the small improvements they reach are so amazing. I can't even explain how much they mean to me. These kids are always in a good mood despite the fact they have to go through some frustrating things day-in and day-out. They are what make me excited to go to work every day and I love being around them."
Do you have any advice for current student athletes?
"Make sure you enjoy every minute of it because it goes by so fast. Make sure you enjoy all the small moments as well. I know it can be very frustrating being a student-athlete, but appreciate the opportunity you have been given. I got to speak to some amazing people through KU Athletics, so take advantage of that connection."