The Franklin & Marshall scholar-athlete profile features one Diplomat per month who personifies what it means to be an NCAA student-athlete. The F&M campus is filled with dedicated, passionate, and talented student-athletes who have interesting stories to tell – and it's our goal to let those stories be heard. To be chosen as a scholar-athlete of the month, F&M student-athletes must demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, and community service, or have a noteworthy story that stretches beyond the realm of athletic competition.
To view previous scholar-athletes, click here.
Being a member of the tennis team at Franklin & Marshall comes with the same difficulties as any two-season sport. Balancing academics, extracurricular activities, and athletics can be challenging for any student-athlete, but Dana Sleeper has been able to find stability and success on and off the court at F&M.
On the court, Sleeper has evolved into a leader of the squad who provides the team with solid performances, especially in doubles. This past fall, she paired with Tara Buchney and Emily Gruenberg to go a combined 5-1 against teams such as Bridgewater, Christopher Newport, and Moravian.
"I do consider Dana a leader of our team, this year specifically," said F&M head tennis coach Sean Kelleher. "She has committed herself to being more fit and setting a great example for her teammates as well as bringing a much more consistent, positive attitude toward our practices."
However, it is Sleeper's academic track record and extracurricular activity involvement that sets the bar high for other student-athletes. From her study abroad experience to her participation in several clubs and organizations on campus, Sleeper is as well-rounded as they come.
In addition to tennis, she is also a member of Alpha Phi, the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), and .08.
The Alpha Phi Sorority offers community service opportunities to its members and during her time at F&M, Sleeper has participated in carving pumpkins with the Boys and Girls Club, trips to Country Meadows Retirement Community, and baking dog biscuits for the Humane League of Lancaster.
SAAC is a committee that discusses various ways to be a good leader and it specializes in coordinating particular events like Teamwork, an annual event where each athletic team spends the afternoon cleaning up the surrounding areas of campus, and Track-or-Treat, another yearly event where each team dresses in costumes and provides a safe trick-or-treating environment for children of Lancaster.
.08 is a group that promotes safe and responsible drinking. "As an athlete and member of Greek life, I think this group is especially important because we are prominent leaders on campus and must know how to handle ourselves on the weekends," said Sleeper.
"These activities have allowed incredible growth throughout college," said Sleeper. "I've become more confident, more outgoing, and these experiences have also given me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills that I know will serve me well after leaving F&M."
While her experiences at college have helped shape the person she is today, it is the time spent studying abroad this past summer that may have made the greatest impact.
Sleeper spent this past summer at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. She took several Spanish classes, as well as an Argentina history course. Sleeper, a Spanish and government major, gives credit to the culture that helped make her experience memorable.
"Argentina was the perfect place for me to develop my language skills as well as experience life under a developing government," said Sleeper.
Even with all of the activities Sleeper participates in, she has still found time to work hard on the court and make unforgettable friendships along the way.
"I have developed friendships with my teammates that I know will endure for years to come," said Sleeper. "I have also learned a lot about myself and have been able to grow and mature with the support of my coaches and teammates."
Despite a very busy schedule, Sleeper has been named to the Dean's List on three occasions and the Honor's List twice.
Though the clock is always against her, Sleeper gives credit to appropriate time management and making sure her work is done in advance.
"Finding a balance has definitely been difficult at times," said Sleeper. "I try to plan ahead, especially when I know I have busy weekends with matches."
When asked about Sleeper's many qualities, Kelleher spoke of her strong work ethic.
"Sleeper's best quality is the consistency of her work ethic, which also shows in her academic and social life on campus," said Kelleher. "She is a great time manager and super organized, allowing her to perform on and off the court."
When asked why she chose F&M, Sleeper says the location and her grandfather being an alumnus made it an easy decision.
"I fell in love with the beauty of the campus and loved the location with the combination of rigorous academics and DIII athletics," said Sleeper. "F&M also had a special place in my heart because my grandfather was a 1954 graduate and played football here at F&M."
After graduation, Sleeper plans to attend law school in Philadelphia or Washington, D.C.