WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Earlier this year, Forbes released the publication's annual 30 Under 30 list, highlighting the achievements of extraordinary entrepreneurs and innovators under the age of 30. Wellesley College was well-represented, with three alumna named to the list, including Zsofia Schweger '12, a former member of the Wellesley fencing team and a selection to Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe in the The Arts Category.
Schweger, who obtained her MA from The University College London Slade School of Fine Art in 2015, has earned a long list of accolades in just five short years since continuing on from Wellesley, including selection to Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2016, the Jealous Prize, Griffin Art Prize, the Wellesley College Art Department Alice C. Cole Award, and the "One To Watch" Award. She recently chatted with wellesleyblue.com about her most recent honor from Forbes and her time as a Division III student-athlete.
WellesleyBlue.com: What are your thoughts on how your experience as a Division III athlete has helped prepare you for challenges since your graduation?
Zsofia Schweger: Let me first tell you that I absolutely loved being on the fencing team at Wellesley! Beyond the fact that I met some of my best friends through fencing, being a student-athlete was a super useful experience long-term, too! First, I got to learn how to work well with a team and coaches towards shared goals - that experience has come in handy in a bunch of different professional settings since graduation. Second, the fact that academics always came first at Wellesley, even though a large portion of my time was spent in practice, taught me a lot about balancing different commitments. I think these are situations that could be applied to careers in most industries, including the arts.
WB: Do you think there are parallels with your experiences in the arts and in varsity competition? What are they? If not, what are the starkest differences?
ZS: Perhaps a good parallel between fencing and being an artist for me is that both are mostly individual endeavours but you still require a ton of help from others. I now spend most of my time working alone in my studio, but I'm lucky that I can count on the help of people, who work very hard behind the scenes on things like organizing art exhibitions, for example. Fencing at Wellesley was similar for me. Our coaches led practices, captains kept us organized, teammates supported and motivated each other, and PERA Department staff did way more for us than we realized, from washing our practice gear daily to organizing travel. I also spent a lot of time in the training room following an injury and really counted on the athletic trainers' help in recovering!
I think the starkest difference between my work as an artist and my experience as a student-athlete might be the way progress is measured. In fencing, at the end of the day, things are pretty black-and-white: you either win or lose a bout. Either way, your coaches can help analyze what happened, suggest improvements and set goals, and later they can hold you accountable. In art though, things are much more subjective, so there are no set criteria against which you could measure progress, nor is there a standard career path. That has plenty of advantages, but I sometimes miss having access to immediate, straight-forward feedback. I had to learn to be proactive and seek it out when needed.
WB: When did you find out about being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe? The publication believes that those on the list 'will impact Europe for the next 50 years' what did/does that honor mean to you?
ZS: I found out that I was on the list in January, on the morning of publication, so that was exciting! Then I got to go to a 30 Under 30 launch event in London along with others on the European list, and I was blown away by many of the people I met there - they had very impressive companies and projects! So I came away inspired and motivated to keep working and growing. Overall, I'm very thankful for such positive outside feedback, because it helps maintain confidence and determination despite spending so much of my time working alone these days.
WB: What athletic accomplishments were you most proud of while attending Wellesley? What artistic or academic accomplishments?
ZS: There are a couple of athletic accomplishments I'm quite proud of, looking back. First of all, it was such a great experience to fence on a very strong team in the 2010-11 season, when we went 22-5 in dual meets! I wasn't one of the best fencers on our team, but I think we all really pushed each other and I learned a lot that year. Individually, I have good memories of a Northeast Conference meet in my senior year in 2012, when things came together really well and I beat a few strong fencers, including some from Division I schools whom I'd been chasing for the three previous years - that felt like such an accomplishment! Finally, I was also very happy to be captain in my senior year and I was proud of how determined our young team (I think we had 7 first-years) was to do well!
WB: Will you be returning to campus anytime in the near future?
ZS: Yes, I plan to be back next fall! I was lucky to receive the generous Alice C. Cole Alumnae Award from the Art Department, which will enable me to show some of my work in one of the campus galleries. I'm really looking forward to it!
NCAA Division III Week on WellesleyBlue.com:
Monday, April 3: NCAA DIII Week Begins With Visit From Louise McCleary '87, Director of NCAA DIII
Tuesday, April 4: Fencing Alumna Zsofia Schweger '12 Named To Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe
Wednesday, April 5: #EarnTheW Day with free t-shirts at Blue Lacrosse, Softball, and Tennis
Thursday, April 6: Wellesley Crew Special Video Feature
Friday, April 7: Current Student-Athlete Profile
Saturday, April 8: 'Seven Sisters Saturday'
Sunday, April 9: Current Student-Athlete Profile
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