All Columbia students are busy, but some are busier than others. And Tina Hughes is busier than they are. Not only is she taking 21 credits as a student in the joint program between the School of General Studies and Albert A. List College of the Jewish Theological Seminary, she’s a varsity athlete on the women’s swimming team. Tina, a first-year student, swims “whatever the team needs me to—mostly free and fly,” she said. “I've competed in every distance of free through the 500 at some point this season, as well as the 100 and 200 flys, and 200 individual medley and relays—which are the most fun, because you are swimming for the team even more so than in individual events.”
Tina attended Manchester High School in Manchester, Conn., where she competed on the swimming team. But initially she was unsure if she would be able to continue swimming after she got to GS. “I was worried about the time commitment and being able to keep my grades up while also putting the time into swimming I would want and need to,” she said. “I knew I wanted the combination of a religious and secular education, and JTS certainly provides the best Jewish education of the schools I was looking at; and Columbia, as an Ivy, is providing the secular part of things. Ultimately, I realized that it was worth giving the program a try and that I could do what it would take to fit everything in as long as I keep my priorities straight. I was also accepted into the [List College] Fellows Program at JTS, which was another incentive. Besides that, I liked the small school atmosphere of JTS—List College only has about 200 students total—within the huge community of Columbia.”
List College Fellows are awarded merit scholarships and are required to take three interdisciplinary honors seminars. “I am currently in a seminar on Sephardic Jewry in medieval history,” Christina said. “These seminars are small—this one only has 6 students in it—and I personally find, much more interesting/enjoyable than lectures, because in a sense, they are more hands-on. We have a better opportunity to share our opinions in this class than in the larger lectures at JTS or Columbia.”
Her heavy courseload and intense practice schedule inevitably force her to make sacrifices; still, Tina has no regrets about her decision. “Once I'd settled in after the first week of classes, I haven't had any second thoughts,” she said. “I don't have as much time to just hang out with friends or my boyfriend, and I'm not as involved in Hillel as I would like, because I have to miss so many services for swim meets. It's a huge time commitment, but I love it. The team is great—joining gives you 30-plus instant friends!” At the Ivy League Championships, held Feb. 15-17 in Princeton, N.J., the women’s swimming and diving team finished 5th overall, while Tina finished 17th in the 100-meter fly and 18th in both the 500 freestyle and 200 fly. Additionally, she was a member of the 200 free relay team, which placed 5th.