When Life Throws a Curveball

By the start of 2020, feeling the pressure of getting her post-graduate life in order, Jacqueline Paul ‘20, MSBA’21 accepted a job with an accounting firm and mentally prepared for one final season with Babson’s softball team.

Come March, everything changed.

Taking a Loss With Stride

“During my time as an undergraduate student, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do. I had a job with the (Philadelphia) Phillies, and had so much fun in that stadium surrounded by fans,” said Paul. “But, I started feeling the pressure to get a ‘real job.’ ”

Paul took a traditional business approach to her job search—from accounting to consulting—and landed what many would consider an amazing opportunity. Though, she admits, “it really wasn’t for me.”

Then? COVID-19. And, all of its consequential reverberations to boot.

First, her senior softball season was canceled. With it, the end of everything she looked forward to during her final months at Babson. Then, her job offer was pushed back to the fall. She didn’t really know what to think or do next.

“Being on the softball team was a big part of my undergraduate experience.” To have it end the way it did, she shared, “was so sad for everyone (but) made us really close as a class, and that much closer as a team.”

Going Into Extra Innings

Members of Babson Softball team class of 2020
Jacqueline Paul, front row, third from left, with teammates from Class of 2020

Babson, and her team, would soon come back into play. Paul and her family learned about a special grant the College offers its alumni who wish to pursue advanced Babson degrees. And, to top it off, athletes who were not able to complete in their final season would be allowed to play one more year.

“My dad simply asked me what would help me pursue my dream of working in baseball.” And, it wasn’t taking a job in accounting, she said. “I called (coach) Dave (Canan) that night.”

With the support of her family, her coach, and her team, Paul decided to return to earn a Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) from Babson. This STEM-designated degree was designed specifically to train business leaders on state-of-the-art tools and techniques to transform information into innovation, across industries.

“The MSBA program includes classes dedicated to each of the analytics programs I’d need, and everyone I talk to in baseball now says you need to have an analytics background to work in this field.”

Paul isn’t the only athlete from the Class of 2020 to return this fall. Joined by Jack Theriault ‘20 (baseball), Brooke Stock ‘20 (softball), Will Gallagher ‘20 (baseball), Valerie Quinlan ‘20 (women’s lacrosse), Michael Nocchi ‘20 (baseball), and Matt Valente ‘20 (baseball), these student-athletes span various Babson graduate programs, but are each still an active member of Babson Athletics.

Pursuing a Dream

Now that she’s here and has started the program, she is that much more excited about pursuing a job in sports.

“It was always something I wanted to do, but actually pushing for it and going to get it … that’s something else,” said Paul. “I used to say I want to be the first woman general manager of Major League Baseball, but I don’t say that anymore because I hope someone gets there before me.”

In the immediate, Paul is just happy to be pursuing her dream while returning to the game, and team, she loves.

And, she shared for the first time, she just accepted a virtual internship with the Society for American Baseball Research this fall.

Jacqueline Paul on base during a game
Jacqueline Paul on second base during a game in Tuscon, Arizona—one of the last the team would play before their season was cancelled in March.

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