A soccer walk-on from Tullahoma, Kirsten Heikkinen Dodson became a team captain who started every game in her four-year career and graduated with a 4.0 GPA in Engineering. Why did she choose Lipscomb? Who inspired her? What other goals has she accomplished? Kirsten sat down with Lipscombsports.com this week to discuss her life since the day she first became a Bison.
What years did you compete for Lipscomb?
I played soccer from 2008-12 for Coach Jon Ireland. I graduated from Lipscomb with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Math in 2012 before earning my PhD from Vanderbilt University in 2016.
Why did you attend Lipscomb?
I chose to attend Lipscomb so that I could play soccer. I’m from the middle Tennessee area so Lipscomb was a good option to stay near family and play for an NCAA Division I team.
What is your favorite athletic memory at Lipscomb?
For my last game with the team on our senior night, some of the guys in my class painted my name on their chests. They were having fun and being goofy all night, but it really meant a lot to me that they were there supporting me in my last game. I spent so many hours with those guys during my college career, and I’m so thankful for the friendships I had in them.
Who influenced your athletic career at Lipscomb?
Jon Ireland took me as a walk-on my freshman year at Lipscomb in fall of 2008 after I had contacted him in the spring. I wasn’t really recruited during high school since I was from a small town, so finding a Division I coach who would take me as a walk-on so late in the process was a huge opportunity. Though I walked on my freshman year, Jon saw potential in me and gave me a starting position. With his help I continued to grow and he made me a captain for my junior and senior years. That leadership experience has opened a lot of doors for me and allowed me to accomplish many of my goals. I really have to thank Jon for each of those opportunities and the results of them.
What’s your favorite non-athletic memory from your time here?
During my junior and senior years I was given the opportunity to participate in some engineering missions projects. I travelled to Guatemala with some of my classmates during my junior year and the experience completely changed my perspective on my life and my future. In that trip I started to find my calling in life – to serve as the hands and feet of God by using the engineering skills and knowledge that came naturally to me. Since then I’ve been heavily involved in the engineering missions program and I’ve been leading trips to Guatemala for five years.
What are the most valuable lessons you learned?
Patience, Time Management, and Compassion. Patience – because God has a plan for you and He will give you a calling when the time is right. Time management – because involvement in athletics and engineering at the same time was exhausting, but the lesson has helped immensely in my life after college as well. Compassion – because everyone deserves the love of Christ. We don’t get to decide whom Christ loves, but we can pass along the compassion He provides us.
Who were your favorite professors?
Kerry Patterson and Fort Gwinn were my favorite professors because they really invested in me as a student. As a faculty member in the same program from which I graduated, I now get to work alongside both of them. It’s really awesome to be able to have them as mentors and colleagues.
What do you do now?
I’m an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Lipscomb. Most of my day is spent teaching mechanical engineering courses like Fluid Mechanics and Design of Thermal-Fluid Systems, but I also have the opportunity to interact with the students in a variety of ways. I’m involved with the Peugeot Center for Engineering Service in Developing Communities as a team leader and as a researcher for the program. In addition, I enjoy my position as the faculty advisor for our university’s section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). While I like teaching classes, I love the opportunities I get to mentor and build relationships with my students.
Tell us about your family:
My husband and I live here in Nashville with our dog Leia. Stephen also works for the Peugeot Center as the Associate Director for Projects. We love spending time with family and travelling. Both of our families live within about an hour of Nashville, so we get to enjoy plenty of time with them.
FAST FIVE FINISH:
- Favorite food: Fried chicken
- Favorite TV show: The Big Bang Theory
- Favorite sports team: U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team
- Favorite season: Summer
- Dream vacation spot: Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada
To contact Kirsten, email her at email@example.com.