BANGOR, Maine – Husson Athletics' very own Nicole Tapparo was recognized for the prestigious award of Valedictorian when she graduated in May of 2020, with a perfect 4.0 grade point average (GPA). Tapparo graduated with not one, but two degrees, including a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician/Community (MHRT/C) Certification. She accomplished all of this while competing for the Husson women's basketball team for the past three years after transferring from Salve Regina University.
Her head coach, Kissy Walker, was always incredibly impressed with Tapparo's athletic and academic drive. Coach Walker adds on, "it is just amazing that Nicole maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout her career while playing basketball at the same time. We are all very proud of her and we know she will go on to do great things!"
Tapparo was one of three Husson students to be named Valedictorian for the Class of 2020, as they all achieved a 4.0, but the only student-athlete in several years to complete this feat and the only women's basketball player who has earned this honor under Coach Walker in the past 29 years. The Topsfield, Mass. native was also spotlighted at the end of her senior season as the 2020 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Senior Scholar Athlete of the Year.
Tapparo has been recognized by each department's honor society, named to the Husson All-Academic Team and the NAC All-Academic Team three times. She has also earned two prestigious Husson University honors in the "Excellence in School of Legal Studies Award" and the "Tara Gerritsen Excellence in Criminal Justice Award." On the court, the 5-7 guard wrapped up her three-year career as an Eagle with 132 points contributing from a 54.1% (53-98) field goal percentage, 151 rebounds, 40 assists, and 47 steals.
Check out the Q&A with Nicole Tapparo on her time as a Husson Eagle and her future plans:
What's your next step in life after graduating from Husson University?
"After graduating from Husson University, I really hope to obtain a psychology research position in a local hospital. I hope to do research on how specific psychological disorders influence the behavior, cognitive patterns, and life choices of humans in a variety of age groups. Obtaining a research position has been pretty difficult recently due to COVID-19, but I am hoping to hear back from several organizations soon! I am very interested in eventually pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology and working in the Criminal Psychology field, so a research position will really help me achieve that."
What was the hardest part for you in balancing a difficult class schedule while also playing basketball for Husson?
"The hardest part for me in balancing a difficult class schedule while also playing basketball for Husson was trying to not get too overwhelmed and focus on staying motivated. I often had a substantial amount of homework and studying to do every night, along with going to practice or having games, so staying organized and staying on top of my work was very important for me to do. I really tried to get as much work done as I could before practice or before any away trips, so that I would not be stressed and could really focus on playing to the best of my ability and having fun with my team. At times it was definitely difficult, but I always tried to push myself to work hard and stay positive with my academics and basketball."
Any advice for any future student-athletes on how to manage a heavy college course load and play a sport at the same time?
"Some advice for any future student-athletes that I have on how to manage a heavy college course load and play a sport at the same time, is to stay organized and display good time management. I feel that these skills really helped me stay on top of my work and helped me get the most out of my academic and basketball experiences. They also helped me become less stressed and allowed me to put forth my best effort in the classroom and on the court. Most importantly, I also feel that every student-athlete needs to ensure that they are having fun and are focusing on their own happiness throughout their academic and athletic experiences. I feel that focusing on these elements, while continuously pushing yourself to work harder and do your best, will allow you to truly succeed and grow as an individual."
Why did you choose to pursue a dual degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology?
"I chose to pursue a dual degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology because those fields of work have always really interested me. I have always been very interested in how the human mind works and why certain individuals engage in criminal behavior while others do not. I just find so many aspects of these fields really fascinating and I thought this dual degree program was a perfect way to combine both of my interests!"
What was your favorite drill or activity in basketball practice?
"My favorite activity in basketball practice was scrimmaging. I felt like it was a great opportunity to be competitive and push your teammates to do better and work harder, which is what I feel like being on a team is all about. I also felt like scrimmaging allowed you to test out new skills and perfect the skills that needed more work against really good competition. I felt that scrimmaging with my teammates really allowed us to come together and I always had fun doing it!"
What will you miss most about Husson University?
"What I will miss most about Husson University are the people that I have met throughout my time there. Through my academics and basketball, I have made many lifelong friendships that I am extremely thankful for. I have met some of the most amazing people at Husson and I am very grateful for the experiences I got to have with them. They made my experience at Husson truly unforgettable and very special to me!"