Sophomore Sean Killpatrick can’t stand to have a schedule with more than ten minutes of downtime. When he isn’t practicing as a cornerback for the Duck squad, co-directing the Student Athletic Advisory Council and Be Oregon organization, or leading church services, Sean pores over literary classics and historical documents alongside business textbooks as a Clark Honors College student and accounting major at the University of Oregon.
Taking on the rigorous practice regimen of a PAC-12 team with the intensive workload of an honors curriculum means little sleep and sore muscles. But for Sean, making the most of each moment seems to come as naturally as a breath of air.
While Sean says it can be daunting to tackle an average day that begins at 7:00 a.m. and ends at 1:00 a.m., planning for the future has been a cornerstone of his strategy to juggle and excel in his diverse interests. Sean first made a point out of developing goals in seventh grade, when he asked his parents for a white board as a birthday present.
In high school the board helped him achieve what few others had been able to. He graduated summa cum laude from his Houston, Texas high school, having taken all of the honors courses offered, in addition to being named a finalist for the 2014 Houston TD Club Defensive Player of the Year.
Sean described using the board as a way to lay down the “stepping stones on my path to my future.” When he applied for colleges, he listed the 10 to which he’d been accepted on the white slate, weighing the pros and cons of each. Among his options were acceptance letters to Princeton and UC Berkeley, and the chance to attend an Ivy League enchanted him the most—until he visited the UO campus that is.
Sean said that first and foremost the atmosphere at UO was “a lot more welcoming” than his experience at Princeton. He got the chance to meet with the Ducks’ football coaches, who treated him with a respect that he hadn’t received elsewhere. When he told them about his goal to be a walk-on, they made him feel confident that he could get a spot on the Oregon team. “The coaches were more upfront,” he said. “They showed a lot of support.”
The chance to attend the Clark Honors College—where he could continue to take honors classes as he did in high school—while playing football for a top-performing state school solidified his commitment to the UO. “The honors college would be an opportunity to continue to be in accelerated classes and strive to be the best in both fields, in academics and also in football,” he said of his decision.
With a few college terms under his belt, the honors courses he’s taken have continuously been his favorite. “I’m a person that likes to move around, talk to other folks,” he said. That makes him quite a fan of the roundtable discussions quintessential of honors college classes.
“I like them because you can get ideas from one another and communicate your own.” He’s been able to draw on his experience as a student athlete for class discussions when topics such as the politics of college sports arise, offering a perspective that others may not have considered. “It’s just a collective learning environment that I’m really fond of,” he said.
Sean also draws on his football world for help with his accounting major. Three members of the Ducks team—running back Jarret LaCoste, quarterback Taylor Alie, and wide receiver Jeff Bieber—also study accounting, and they’ve been Sean's main guides as he maneuvers the business world while balancing sports and schoolwork.
“They’ve been my main go-to people right now since they’ve been in my shoes,” he said. “They’ve helped a whole lot.”
Sean has some new goals for his whiteboard, such as getting a 3.5 GPA for the term and, as inspired by the football team’s spring initiative, making sure to “do something every day, make a play." But ultimately “My main goal would be to be the CEO of a corporation,” he said.
Whether it be football accolades, upcoming grades, or his future job, Sean is bent on achieving, step by determined step, each item on his list. “I just go around with a good mindset and take that all the way throughout the day until I go to bed and start it back over.”
—Derek Maiolo, Multimedia Communications Assistant, Clark Honors College