One of the many aspects students value about their Barnard experience is the opportunity to compete in NCAA Division I Athletics through the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium. Barnard is the only women's college—and one of only a few liberal arts colleges—to offer Division I athletics. This is the second feature in our 2018-19 scholar-athlete series. (Our most recent feature was of rowers Chloe Keating ’19 and Anneliese Gallagher ’19.)

Photo: Mike McLaughlin
Here we feature first-year student Alana Palomino ’22, a forward on the Columbia Field Hockey Team—and the only Barnard student on the team. Alana hails from San Diego and is majoring in biochemistry.

What does being a college athlete mean to you?

Being a college athlete means that I get to be a part of something bigger than myself. It has been a dream come true to play a sport at the collegiate level, and I feel fortunate to have this opportunity to be a part of the Ivy League. Knowing that I get to play the sport I love almost every day with 21 other incredible athletes, who not only share the same passion as me, but who are also incredibly smart, is motivating in itself. 

Competing in Division I as a college student, however, comes with a price; it takes commitment, hard work, dedication, and most importantly, time management. However, it has proven to be well worth it. I feel a great sense of pride walking around campus representing the field hockey program not only on behalf of Columbia, but also as the sole player on the squad representing Barnard.

How has being a college athlete informed your college experience?

Getting acclimated in my first semester of college during our competitive season initially felt overwhelming and was a major adjustment. However, the support I have received from my teammates and coaches has been invaluable and has made my transition easier. At night, when I reflect back on my day, I am always amazed at how much I've accomplished. It is all about planning out your days in order to be successful on the field and in the classroom.

When you are not competing or studying, what do you like to do?

It is incredible that we get to experience college life in one of the most exciting cities in the world. It is completely different from my hometown of San Diego. I love exploring the city and its attractions. So far, I have seen "Jersey Boys" on Broadway and biked around Central Park. I intend to see more shows, ice skate at Bryant Park, go to concerts at Madison Square Garden, and tour museums in my spare time.

How did you first become interested in your field hockey?

Field hockey is a growing sport on the West Coast. I had been a competitive soccer player in middle school and wanted to condition myself outside of soccer to prepare for high school athletics. Field hockey seemed to be the perfect complementary sport for conditioning because it has similar field positioning as soccer. In fact, I found myself picking it up quickly and before I knew it, I fell in love. I have so much gratitude for the supportive field hockey community I had back at home, much like I have here, at Columbia and Barnard. If not for the guidance, training, and support I received from my coaches, I would not have believed that I could be playing in college.