Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Athletes in business college forge path to success

Ginette Schapira '13 has become one of the most consistent performers on the women's golf team.

Bethlehem is a long way from home for Ginette Schapira. When she decided four years ago to attend Lehigh, Schapira embarked on a journey that has taken her more than 5,000 miles from Montevideo, Uruguay.

While the decision meant trading the balmy weather of South America for cold Pennsylvania winters, Schapira, a senior finance major, says that Lehigh’s academic reputation and her desire to play golf at an NCAA Division I school made her choice easier.

“I was recruited by the head coach at the time, and my aunt lives in New Jersey, so she knew the school and she knew it was really good,” said Schapira, who represented Uruguay in several South American golf championships and international tournaments throughout high school. “Lehigh was the perfect balance between great athletic facilities, great golf and good academics, which was my main goal.”

Gabe Knutson, another senior student-athlete in Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics (CBE), came to Lehigh for many of the same reasons as Schapira. He has been a starter on the men’s basketball team since his first year, and has worked hard to be a successful accounting student.

“The professors test you and really push you,” said Knutson, a native of Urbandale, Iowa. “I’m really happy about making it through this far.”

Student-athlete success in the CBE has been common over the years. Some 31.4 percent of Lehigh’s student-athletes are enrolled in the CBE, and of those, 19.1 percent are on the Dean’s list. Undergraduates in the business college have been successful in their careers—when surveyed six months after graduation, only 2 percent of the members of the Class of 2011 were still seeking employment, and most reported salaries exceeding the national average.

Schapira and Knutson are enrolled in two of Lehigh’s most challenging majors; in 2012, Lehigh was ranked 7th in finance and 21st in accounting by BusinessWeek magazine. Both students have achieved positive results in the classroom and in their sports.

A two-time co-captain of the women’s golf team, Schapira was one of a record 11 Lehigh student-athletes recognized as recipients of the 2012 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award, and she had a 3.96 GPA heading into her senior season. Last summer, Schapira gained professional experience in finance at Circle Wealth Management in New York.

Knutson, meanwhile, will intern in assurance services at PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York this summer, after a 2012 summer internship with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Knutson has been named to the Academic All-Patriot League Team in basketball the last two years, and is 13th on the Mountain Hawks’ all-time scoring list.

Knutson is also one of 20 nominees for the NCAA’s 2012-2013 Senior CLASS Award in college basketball, which honors students for excellence in community, classroom, character and competition.

While it is not always easy balancing academic and athletic responsibilities, Knutson and Schapira say they found ways to manage. They also credit CBE faculty for accommodating their schedules.

“You have to prepare ahead of time, communicate with your professors, and hand in homework early before road trips,” said Knutson, who hopes to play basketball professionally or pursue a career in accounting.

“I am in one of Lehigh's student run real estate portfolios, the Thompson International Portfolio, which has been an amazing learning experience,” said Schapira, who minors in real estate. “[Finance] Prof. David Myers supervises the club and holds the meetings at night so that athletes can have the opportunity to be a part of it.”

Story by Karl Brisseaux

Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2013

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