Q&A: Maria Pansari

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Photo: Matt Bruchalski

Photo: Matt Bruchalski

Maria Pansari, the sophomore setter for the women’s volleyball team from Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, cares about more than just volleyball. When she can, she tries to be a presence in her community through community service. Through that service, she has learned how to be a better teammate both on and off the court.

Q: What do you enjoy most when giving back to your community?

A: I think the feeling of just being apart of something else besides the community of our school because I am not from around here. So knowing that I also have connections with people outside of campus is really nice.

Q: How does it feel knowing your team had the most community service hours out of all the Quinnipiac teams?

A: It felt really good, and I think the best part is we weren’t really doing it to win. We were tracking it and submitting it because it was an opportunity. But we really enjoyed actually reaching out and consistently going back to the same places which was cool and that carries on to this year which is nice.


Q: What types of things did you and your team do to give back?

A: We visited Connecticut Food Bank, we did that a couple times, sorted food. We did Animal Haven and we worked with their animals. We did some fundraisers with them. We worked at a food kitchen, served underprivileged families meals and we worked with a local farm and helped her clean up and with the animals. That was cool.


Q: Do you think giving back makes you a better person?

A: Yeah, and you definitely gain different experiences and meet new people. Everyone needs help in some way so it’s really nice knowing that you can help out and make a difference.


Q: Where does a student-athlete like yourself find the time to give back?

A: In season it’s tough, there’s not much time. But out of season, we have a lot more time to do things and even if it’s just an hour once a week it all adds up and it’s fun. It’s nice to get away from campus, from school work and volleyball and do something else with your team.


Q: When you’re not giving back, what do you enjoy doing?

A: I like being with my friends and family, and doing adventures and stuff. I like to hike and go to the beach, stuff like that.


Q: If you could describe yourself using one word what would it be?

A: Probably diverse because I never like doing the same thing every day. I get bored of it, so I often find different activities or different people to do stuff with and like I do have some type of structure and routine in my life. Also, I just like doing new things and experiencing different things that are available to me.


Q: What do you want to be when you’re older?

A: I’m not exactly sure, but I do know I either want to go to medical school or go to PA school.


Q: What would you say is your favorite thing about volleyball?

A: I think the teamwork aspect. The thing that many people don’t realize is that every action that you make affects every single other person around you and whether you’re touching the ball at a certain moment or not, you’re still affecting the game and how the team is working and the dynamic. I think I really learned that after coming to college because I thought, “Oh if I’m not touching the ball, I don’t have an impact,” but I do. That’s really important to recognize and that goes farther than just volleyball. That goes into classwork and working with other people and it will go into my job eventually. So I think it’s teaching me a lot of important things.


Q: Did you do any community service in high school or when you were younger?

A: I did. I did a lot of stuff through my church at home. That was like soup kitchens and stuff like that, decorating for different holidays.  I was also apart of Habitat for Humanity at my school.


Q: If you could go to any country and help people in need where would you go?

A: Probably Haiti. I actually had a girl that I played volleyball with in high school and one of her family members has a shelter there. All the pictures and stories that she comes back with is awesome and I think that would be a really cool place to help out.


Q: Do you have younger siblings? What is one thing you would hope that they can learn from you?

A: I do: a younger brother and sister. Just to experience new things and not get into the habit of doing the same thing all the time, or if something’s uncomfortable saying no to doing it. There are so many situations that I find myself being like weary to say yes to and then I do it. Even though I’m uncomfortable for ten seconds, it really helps me be either a better person or grow or learn something so I think that’s important.


Q: How does it feel to already break Quinnipiac’s record for assists as a sophomore?

A: It feels good and knowing that I didn’t do that myself and every single person on my team had to contribute to that. Whether it was staying after practice or just pushing me to be better in practice, it all really came from my team so I really like that aspect.


Q: What makes you want to help people?

A: I think the feeling that I feel afterward is the most rewarding thing. It makes you feel so much better and it gives you so much life and the daily routine of college because I would say 70 percent my life I’m studying so it really makes me feel better, and it’s fun!