NEWMAC Student-Athlete Spotlight: Jaya Nagarajan-Swenson '22

NEWMAC Student-Athlete Spotlight: Jaya Nagarajan-Swenson '22
South Hadley, Mass. - November 16, 2020 - Mount Holyoke College junior Jaya Nagarajan-Swenson (Berkeley, Calif.) of the rowing team was recently featured on the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) website as part of the league's "Student-Athlete Spotlight" initiative.
Link to NEWMAC Press Release

Class: Junior
Sport: Rowing
Position: Coxswain
Major: Astrophysics & Biology

What made you choose Mount Holyoke College?  
I chose Mount Holyoke because of the people here, both the students and the professors. Everyone here is incredibly kind and driven, which makes it a fantastic environment to learn and grow and do competitive sports in! I met people that I liked and wanted to befriend during my one-day snowy April visit in 2018, which completely confirmed that this school is right for me.

What is your most memorable moment as a NEWMAC student-athlete?        
My first year, we were doing a small mid-April scrimmage with a couple of other nearby schools. We had raced with all of them multiple times before, so we had a type of camaraderie that comes from racing together every week, as well as an idea of what the field would look like. I was in the second varsity eight, and wearing my favorite regatta hat (a blue bucket hat with bananas on it). As we all backed into the stakeboats and waited to start, there was a bit of laughter from everybody about multiple coxswains wearing funny hats, and a good amount of looking over at other crews and telling them "great hat!" Once we started racing, though, it almost instantly felt like a duel between us and Clark. We were over halfway down the course, neither boat was consistently ahead, we were in lanes right next to each other, and it felt like no time had passed at all. Both of us were having fun and rowing some of our best times ever, and we all knew it. I think we ended up finishing less than two seconds before them, and both crews congratulated each other when we finished. Despite being a small race with only a few boats, it ended up being one of the most memorable. This combination of camaraderie on the start line and ferocious racing down the course is one of my favorite parts of the NEWMAC!

What do you enjoy most about being a Division III Student-Athlete?
I appreciate the balance between sports and academics. Division III is perfect for me because the sport is intense enough that I'm constantly pushing myself and improving, and I still have enough time to double major and learn as much as I can and be a part of the on-campus community.

Do you have a favorite event or matchup with a fellow NEWMAC institution that you always look forward to every year? 
I don't think I have a favorite! The best races are always unexpected, so I just look forward to all of them.

Can you give us a brief description of your major and why you chose it?
I'm double majoring in astrophysics and biology, mostly because they're the subjects that are the most fun for me. Within biology, I'm most interested in ecology and evolution and all of its potential applications in conservation. Within astrophysics, I'm really interested in stellar formation and development, as well as strange galaxies. I'm also currently doing research with an astro professor on campus, and studying evolution and star formation in Low Surface Brightness Galaxies!

Do you have any future plans you want to share?
My internship from this summer at the Blandy Experimental Farm at the University of Virginia, was postponed to next summer. So I'll almost certainly be studying ecology and designing my own independent research there in 2021!

Are you a part of any groups/clubs on campus you would want to share with us?
I've been on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) since my first year at Mount Holyoke. Last year, I became the chair of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion on the SAAC, which became an official subcommittee (instead of just one person's role) about a month ago! We're working on creating trainings about various DEI topics for all teams to go through annually, which is super exciting. I'm also a leader of the First Generation and Ethnic Minority Student-Athlete Group on campus, which is just coming to life! We meet regularly build relationships, support shared challenges and move diversity and inclusion initiatives forward.

Any additional information you would want to share with us to release to our viewers? Hidden talents, fun fact, favorite TV show, favorite music before a game etc...
- Quarantine hobby: I have been baking bread for about two years, but have recently honed my sourdough skills
- Pre- and post-regatta bus ride activity: knitting a blanket and listening to podcasts
- Talents: catching useless pokemon and making ravioli from scratch
- Foe: subtraction