UConn’s student-athletes are often lauded for their on-field or on-court achievements, but there’s an equally important – often unseen – dimension to the student-athlete. UConn Today’s Student-Athlete Strong series highlights the academic prowess of selected high-achieving student-athletes and provides an inside look at their lives beyond their sport.
Nabeel Khan ’19 (ENG)
Hometown and high school: Westerville (Columbus), Ohio; Columbus Academy
Sport: Men’s Golf
Area of study: Mechanical Engineering
Anticipated graduation: May 2019
How did you decide you wanted to pursue engineering as your major?
From a young age, I was always interested in building, design, and how things functioned from a technical standpoint. So I knew studying engineering would be the best fit for me, allowing me to excel in areas of studies that intrigued me. Also, I have always been better at the subjects of math and physics, so that was another hint. I ended up choosing mechanical engineering because it seemed like the engineering category where I could do the greatest variety of work.
What attracted you to UConn’s mechanical engineering program?
UConn, the school itself, interested me because it is a highly ranked public university and that speaks for itself and the programs offered at the school. Also, the undergraduate engineering program offers multiple great on-campus research experiences: they have the five-year, Eurotech study abroad program, as well as the hands-on senior design program. They also guarantee admission into the mechanical engineering graduate program if your GPA is higher than a 3.5. These are the factors that stood out to me when I was looking at the prestige of the UConn mechanical engineering program.
What advice would you offer to a student considering going into mechanical engineering?
I would say it is definitely not an easy path but it is definitely rewarding. Obvious advice would be to attend class, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and try not to fall behind. The hard work will be worth it in the end; the challenges faced and the wide variety of skills you will gain provide a number of different opportunities post graduation.
I understand your mom and dad are from India and Pakistan respectively, although you grew up in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. How do you think your background may have contributed to your experiences at UConn?
My background has helped me better interact and understand others from various different backgrounds. UConn is a very diverse campus, whether you look at ethnic, gender, or geographic diversity. My experiences also help me contribute a unique point of view to discussions and conversations in class and around campus, and to be open to other people’s points of view and opinions.
How and when did you take up golf?
I took up the game at the age of 5 at a local range a couple years after my dad started the game. My dad picked up the game when Tiger Woods came to the local range and put on a clinic. He took me and my brothers to go watch Tiger, and that’s my first memory of starting the game.
Golf is one of the more unusual sports for high school and college athletes to be involved in. Does that present any particular challenges?
I’m not really sure this question holds true. Golf was unusual for many kids to play in middle school, but my entire life I’ve been surrounded by people who play the game, and I know many people in college – friends, coaches, and professors – who play it. So I don’t see any challenges that relate to the sport being unusual.
Where do you practice when the weather is bad?
Here at UConn we have an indoor practice facility that has two simulators, a turf putting green, and additional space to practice our short game. Not being able to practice outside is not always ideal, but we make the most of what we have. Also, the team takes two training trips down to Florida every year at the beginning of our spring season to prepare for the season.
If you could meet one professional golfer, who would that be and why?
Tiger Woods would definitely be the professional golfer that I would want to meet. To me, he is the greatest to ever play the game, and he’s my favorite player. Based on what he’s accomplished in the sport, there are endless things to learn from him and his experiences both on and off the course.
What does it mean to you to be a Husky?
First and foremost being a Husky means being a part of, embracing, and carrying on the traditions of UConn Nation. I believe it is important to have strength of character, always give my best performance, and embrace the challenges I face. As an athlete, I get to represent these qualities and more all the time, because I have the opportunity to travel around and compete representing the school. Being a Husky means so much to me not only because of the opportunities that have been available to me, but the experiences, memories, and friendships made while being a Husky here at UConn are going to be lifelong and hopefully memorable.