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Graduation Stories

ISE senior scores her degree

Jenna Butler

Earning a degree in industrial and systems engineering and playing Division I women’s soccer wasn’t easy for senior Jenna Butler, but she would not have approached college without either.

“I can’t really imagine not being a student athlete,” she said. “Now that I’m done, and I’m graduating and I don’t have soccer it feels so strange.”

Butler dedicated hours to soccer, and her commitment paid off. Throughout her collegiate career, she started in 86 games, the eighth most in program history, and started in every game during her junior and senior years. The center back primarily held off the other team’s offense, but throughout her senior season, she still netted two goals, two assists and six points.

“It was really cool to be part of such a competitive team during college,” she said. “My really close friends on the team are from different countries, so I think it’s so interesting to see different backgrounds and meet different people from different cultures.”

Despite how busy she was, she made time for fun and volunteering. She volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Rise Against Hunger and Athletes in Action. When she wasn’t involved off campus, she attended bucket list items for any NC State student.

“My favorite memory as a student is Packapalooza my freshman year,” she said. “There was so many people out, and I felt like I really got to experience the fun aspect of college.”

Jenna Butler positions herself to strike the ball during a soccer match.

While the opportunity to play collegiate soccer was a major draw for Butler, she also wanted to build upon the academic interests she had already discovered in high school. She took advanced math classes in high school and was told engineering involved a lot of math. NC State’s renowned engineering options combined with its fun location in a city sealed the deal. She decided to major in industrial and systems engineering and found that the subject already seemed familiar to her.

“I found it was really applicable to issues employees have in the real world,” she said. “For example, my dad has his own construction company, and so some of the issues he would come home and talk about, with his back hurting or his wrists hurting or stuff like that, were actually examples in the class that I was taking. It was cool to see that things I had grown up hearing, that could be issues in the workplace for my dad, were problems that I might be able to help fix.”

One of her favorite aspects of engineering is that it is so applicable to the real world and offered her many opportunities for a career after completing her education. She’s interested in pursuing a job in project management and putting her minor in statistics to use.

But she is not ready to give up soccer just yet. Her first step after graduation is to pursue playing professionally. She is interested in entering the draft and trying out for American clubs or playing abroad.

As she finished up her final days at NC State, she left words of advice for her fellow engineering students.

“You can get through it, even if you don’t think you can,” she said. “There are many resources available. People want to help you succeed so don’t be afraid to use them.”