As a varsity swimmer at Simon Fraser University (SFU), the world of sport psychology was not unfamiliar for Marina Cummiskey. After recognizing sport psychology as a career that she wished to pursue, Cummiskey switched her major to psychology to learn more about this field.
For her dedication to her coursework and the athletic community, Cummiskey is receiving the Dean’s Undergraduate Convocation Medal. This medal recognizes undergraduate students in each faculty whose cumulative grade point average places them in the top five percent of their class. Cummiskey will be receiving this award on Tuesday, June 7th during SFU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Convocation (Ceremony B).
During her undergraduate career at SFU, she spent her first two and a half years competing as a varsity swimmer for SFU’s Swimming and Diving team. She was also involved with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee as a member on the campus events and mental health subcommittees.
Following her retirement from swimming, she notes that it was a challenge to navigate the end of her athletic career.
“It was challenging to understand how this transition affected my identity and sense of purpose,” says Cummiskey. “While this process was certainly a personal journey, it opened my eyes to how significant athletic retirement can be for many athletes, and it inspired me to study this topic in an academic setting.”
In her last semester, Cummiskey joined Dr. Lara Aknin’s Helping and Happiness Lab as a research assistant, where she worked on a study focusing on prosociality and wellbeing throughout athletic retirement. As someone who experienced first-hand the process of transitioning out of sport, the topic of athletic retirement became of particular interest to her. Her experience in the Helping and Happiness Lab convinced her to devote her graduate studies to the area of athletic retirement research.
When it comes to the most rewarding part of her university experience, Cummiskey says that it has undoubtedly been the people she was able to meet and work with.
“From my fellow student-athletes, professors, graduate students, to scholars across Canada, I have been able to interact with some truly incredible individuals who have shaped my degree and career path,” she says.
With the completion of her degree, Cummiskey plans on enjoying the summer in Vancouver before moving to Montreal to begin her master’s degree in sport psychology at McGill University.
“I am excited to begin my own research on the role of self-compassion in athletic retirement processes,” she says, “and to someday practice as a registered sport psychologist to support elite athletes’ performance and mental health.”
This story was originally published on the Department of Psychology website on June 3, 2022.