By Benjamin Wideman / Sports Information Director
MANITOWOC, Wis. -- Carmen Medina-Santa Anna rarely has to figure out what to do in her free time.
That's because she doesn't have any.
Ever since her freshman year of high school, Carmen has successfully juggled her time with a wide variety of activities both in and out of school.
That has continued here at Silver Lake College, where, as a freshman this year, she jumped right into her college experience by joining the inaugural women's soccer team.
"Getting involved in things has really changed my life," Carmen said. "It gave me a bigger outlook on things and made me more aware of what's out there in the world. It made me not be narrow minded. I think I have a greater perspective because of doing so many things."
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Carmen began expanding her horizons as a freshman at St. Joan Antida High School, the state's only all-girl high school to offer the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) program.
Carmen was the only freshman on an otherwise all-senior robotics team that competed in a variety of competitions showcasing their range of skills. She completed five engineering courses in high school because it was a career field she was considering.
She also spent three years on the yearbook staff taking photographs and putting together pages, among other responsibilities.
And she was among a select group of St. Joan Antida students chosen to be ambassadors because of their solid grade-point averages, attendance records and standing with teachers. "We were sort of the face of the school," she said. "We'd go to other schools, like middle schools, and talk about our high school and why it was a good place to attend."
After school hours, Carmen excelled on the high school soccer team, serving as a captain during her junior and senior years.
"I like playing soccer, because I like having control at your feet," said Carmen, who before high school was a member of an all-boys club soccer team in the area.
Carmen was equally busy outside of school.
Ever since her freshman year of high school she has been involved in Ballet Folklorico Nacional of Milwaukee, an innovative, theatrical body of dancers committed to the preservation of folklore dance that honors her Mexican heritage. It involves about 10 hours of practice each week (she intends to resume spending more time with the group after the college soccer season concludes later this month).
"I got into dance because when I was little I saw this girl and thought, 'I want to be like her someday,'" Carmen said. "Now I hope someone sees me and says, 'I want to be like her when I get older.' I feel like when you're on stage, it's all you. It's my way of expressing myself."
As part of Ballet Folklorico Nacional of Milwaukee, Carmen has traveled to Canada, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Illinois.
Somehow, Carmen also found time to work over the past several years.
A few days after her 14th birthday, she started a job at the 7 Mile Fair flea market in nearby Caledonia where she programmed keyless remotes. That led to a position at Payless Shoe Source. And this past summer she worked in sales at Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee.
"My mom (Amanda) always taught us to be strong women," Carmen said of her and her younger sister, Zamarah. "It was always just the three of us pretty much. She taught us to be able to take care of ourselves and be humble. I started working when I was young so I had my own money."
Carmen said her mother has been a tremendous influence in her life.
"She always said, 'Never say you can't do something,'" Carmen said. "She's the one who taught me how to be the person I am today."
Carmen learned about Silver Lake College through the College Possible program. Now that she's two months into college she couldn't be happier.
"When I came here I just liked how the people felt," she said. "It felt welcoming and like a family. I feel Silver Lake College is developing me to be more independent and preparing me for the future."
She's also thrilled about playing on the Lakers' inaugural women's soccer team.
"I'm honored to be part of the first team," she said. "Being a freshman, I'm excited about what's coming next year. We'll do amazing things, I know we will. We are learning and growing as a team."
Silver Lake College women's soccer coach Lexie Gauger said, "Carmen is a very determined player when it comes to games and making sure she gives the highest level of work. She is willing to try new positions, and she makes sure to ask questions when needed. She is a player who always gives her honest opinion and feedback when it comes to practices and games."
Carmen intends to pursue a degree in business marketing and a career in international marketing. She recently visited Europe and loved the experience, further cementing her interest in a field that will take her abroad.
"My motivation for the future is to be successful in whatever I do," she said.
And for someone who also learned to surf and throw a lasso, Carmen has proven she can accomplish whatever she puts her mind to.
"When I decide to do something, I really throw myself into it," she said. "I'm not the type of person to just settle. I think you should do different things in life, because you never know what you'll like or who you'll meet."