Diver Jackie Bain says balancing work and play made college great

By Meghan Montemurro

After four years of wearing orange and blue, early morning practices and representing the University of Illinois as a student-athlete Jackie Bain’s academic and athletic careers at Illinois are coming to a close.

For Bain, it has been four years of fun, hard work and dedication to the sport and school she loves.

“Being a student-athlete gives you a completely different experience,” Bain said. “I was extremely busy, but I like being busy.”

Bain balanced her time with diving, school and work as a lifeguard while double majoring in molecular and cellular biology and political science with a minor in chemistry. Bain said she was led to MCB and chemistry after acquiring enough credit hours from high school classes that she needed only a few more classes to obtain a degree. Her passion, though, remains in political science and law.

This fall, Bain will begin law school at Marquette University after getting accepted by her No. 1 choice.

It has led to some late nights for Bain. She is able to thrive off only five to six hours of sleep, much to the chagrin of her coaches who tried to set a bedtime for her to dissaude all-nighters. Toss in life guarding and diving, Bain’s days at the University have been busy and stressful. But she says she wouldn’t change a thing.

When her college decision coming down to Illinois and the University of Miami-Ohio, Bain said her choice was easy after taking one visit to campus.

“My main focus was academics and then I loved the school spirit, the Fighting Illini, and it was in-state tuition,” Bain said. “On my recruiting visit when I came down, everyone was wearing Illinois apparel.”

Being a student-athlete at the college level isn’t easy, but it can be more challenging when double majoring. Bain said she was always up for the task because she enjoyed reading books for class and diving for the Illini.

Bain did learn early on that the key to success in and out of the classroom came from setting aside time to have fun with friends.

A year from now Bain plans to be at Marquette earning her degree in intellectual property law. Her biology and chemistry knowledge won’t go to waste as Bain plans to use her law degree to work with patents.

“I really like science, but I don’t like medicine or blood,” Bain said. “Hopefully I’ll work in a big firm and establish myself.”

Looking back at her time at Illinois, Bain said she will miss her teammates, friends and the campus.

“I learned that it’s OK to have fun and to take the time out to have fun,” Bain said.

Bain doesn’t plan on forgetting her Illinois orange and blue roots as they will remain close to her while earning her law degree at Marquette.

“I’m excited because they have a basketball team,” Bain said. “But whenever the Illini play, I am going to go all out and cheer for them.”