Students persevere through busy schedules

Three Biola students share their source of motivation and the way determination shapes their lives.

Kara Ramey, Writer

Despite a rigorous academic workload, busy extracurricular schedules and additional responsibilities on and off of campus, Biola students can still excel with a strong work ethic and great determination.

Senior kinesiology major Pierre Zook, senior guard and captain of the Biola men’s basketball team and second place contender in the NAIA for three pointers, finds ways to stay on top of his academic work as well as succeed in basketball. For student athletes, the success borne of hours of stress and sweat when training keeps them motivated to continue doing well, when they see the results of their efforts played out on the court.

“I am not defined by my grades and so either an A or a B or whatever it is, I continue to work hard regardless of what I get and I think that can really inspire someone to work harder. I think sometimes we get bogged down by thinking that ‘I can’t do this, I’m losing motivation,’ but looking at the grand scheme of things can really motivate people. I know it motivated me,” Zook said.


Many know senior business management major Ashley Panko for her role as Biola University’s current vice president of Associated Students, but they might not understand the intricate process it took for her to get there and to where she is today.

“Growing up shy and introverted, I did not want to take any sort of role in leadership. I was not that person. I had to teach myself to be motivated and driven, it was not natural, let me tell you that — I had to learn and push myself,” said Panko.

Considering leadership was not one of her natural abilities, Panko built upon the actions of her role model, her mother, and the values she instilled.

“My parents always emphasized the importance of working hard in whatever I set my mind to, sticking to something and completing it to the end. Also, doing everything for the glory of God, which means doing your best and giving Him all the glory,” Panko said.


Senior art major Amanda Upp also understands the need to stay motivated despite an overwhelming schedule. Art majors are often required to invest a significant amount of time to their work inside and outside of the classroom.

“It is double the class time and the work of a regular class. It is intense,” Upp said. “Honestly, I do think I have a bit of a natural ability for art, but it is primarily because I have put dedication and time into it. You may have natural talent, but if you don’t put work into it, what’s the point? You’re never going to improve. Whether or not you have talent, if you are hardworking, you will improve.”


One significant correlation in these three individuals is their foundation, love and passion in Jesus Christ. They recognize that staying motivated with a busy schedule begins with their faith.

“Motivation comes from within, but more importantly recognizing that there is a greater being that is powering you,” Zook said.

Zook, Panko and Upp each stated that without Jesus, they most likely would not succeed in the goals and dreams they aspire towards and would not even be who they are today. For those students who are also in positions of leadership, such as Zook and Panko, recognizing the source of their motivation helps them in their leadership pursuits.

“What a huge difference my life would be — I would probably be a terrible, selfish leader if it was not for God,” Panko said.

Motivation, determination and persistence do not magically show up out of the blue. As Zook, Panko and Upp stated, their faith in Christ remains a constant support and foundation as they undertake overwhelming schedules as athletes, leaders and students.


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