Sept. 8, 2010
By Kelly Taylor, Media Relations Student Assistant
She studied abroad in Spain, worked on satellites in California and plays volleyball for the Fighting Irish. In terms of epitomizing a well-rounded college student, Angela Puente certainly qualifies.
Puente, a senior and native of Redondo Beach, Calif., sought out Notre Dame for its excellence across all facets of collegiate life. "What really sold me was the school's tradition, as well as its academic and athletic standing," says Puente. "It's like this little package school."
Puente has undoubtedly taken advantage of the opportunities this "package school" has to offer.
Upon completion of her junior year, Puente studied abroad in Spain for six weeks prior to returning home. "We were at a small university in Alcoy, and we lived with other Spanish kids who were going to school there," she says. Puente traveled throughout Spain with her fellow peers during her time overseas, visiting cities such as Madrid, Toledo and Valencia.
She attributes her current urge to travel to this study-abroad experience. "In Spain, I became so immersed in the culture, living and eating with Spanish kids," explains Puente. "It just made me want to see even more of Europe. Now I want to see Africa and Asia, and I want to do a lot more traveling in the future."
After a hectic foreign experience such as this, many would look forward to the free time and laid-back atmosphere of home. However, for the remainder of the summer, Puente worked on a classified satellite project in California. Working as an intern for defense contractor Northrop Grumman, she focused on space and satellites, the field she eventually wishes to pursue further as a career.
As the lone female intern in a group of eight other men, Puente worked with computer-animated design, creating parts for satellites for five weeks. This was the third summer that she offered her skills to the company. "Ideally, I would like to end up with a job there after graduation," says Puente.
Fulfilling the roles of aerospace engineer and student-athlete simultaneously, Puente has endured the difficulties that shadow her major. "I actually have enjoyed pursuing my major. I don't think anyone going into engineering knows what to expect," says the Irish senior.
After sticking it out for three years, the volleyball devotee has learned to appreciate her professors and peers within the College of Engineering. "I really like the professors that I've had, and I love being surrounded by such high-caliber students," Puente says.
In regards to balancing volleyball with school, Puente notes her compassionate coaches. "It's definitely been a challenge but I have a very understanding coach," she says. "Sometimes there are things that I cannot miss and my coach knows that." A volleyball enthusiast since the seventh grade, however, Puente realizes that the hardships prove worthwhile.
Additionally, she is thankful for the structure that volleyball imposes on her life. "It really makes you focus on your time management, and I'm so much more prepared for my classes than a lot of my peers," states Puente.
Having three years of student-athlete experience, the 5-foot-6 Californian unmistakably holds an important leadership position within the team. "When I was a freshman, I always thought the seniors just seemed so much older. I like being a source of strength for the younger girls. They don't know how anything works and they look to you as a guide. I hope to give them strength and support," comments Puente.
Puente maintains high expectations for the Fighting Irish volleyball squad this season. "We want to do as well as we did last year," she says. Specifically, she pinpoints winning the BIG EAST Conference and advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16.
"The amount of talent on our team is incredible," Puente says. A defensive specialist and vital communicator, she looks to contribute towards the team's success consistently this season.
Aside from the grandeur of space ships, Spain and volleyball, Puente seems to appreciate the simple joys of Notre Dame as well. "I love laying outside on North Quad with friends when it's a sunny day," states Puente. "It doesn't get much better than that."
In regards to her favorite academic class, Puente points to a course outside of the engineering school. "I took a philosophy class called "Living the Virtues." The teacher was phenomenal and the class enabled me to look at life in different ways," she comments.
Most notably, Puente mentions the camaraderie within the Notre Dame volleyball squad. "The relationships I've made with my teammates are unlike anything else," she says. "We hardly ever get sick of each other and they just make this place great for me."
While some student-athletes may spend the summer solely focusing on their game, others expand their horizons with international escapades and professional internships. For student-athletes like Angela Puente, the latter certainly proves more rewarding.