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Priorities Straight

Softball or giving hard-hitting thesis? The choice was clear

Most college athletes trade in their uniforms for business attire after graduation, but Stanford University softball player Kayla Bonstrom already has experienced that switch. Rather than lacing up her cleats for a Cardinal home game April 6, she was on the opposite coast wearing heels and a black business suit.

The international relations major presented her senior thesis at the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy, and as a result, Stanford was without one of its biggest offensive threats. Bonstrom led the Cardinal in runs, hits and doubles this past season and ended her career among the top 10 in seven statistical categories. The utility player, however, had no trouble explaining the event’s importance to her softball family.

“All of my teammates know how hard I’ve been working on my thesis and were so supportive of me being able to pursue this,” Bonstrom says.

Through the Center for International Security and Cooperation honors program, Bonstrom elected to write her thesis on the Islamic State militant organization, exploring the unique history and geopolitical aspects of the Middle East. She shared her research with a group of Army West Point cadets, officers and counterterrorism experts. 

Bonstrom will continue international security research this summer with a three-week seminar in Israel, where she will study security issues and democratic values in the country. The Tucson, Arizona, native will close out her summer break working as an intern with the U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C.

About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.