Four years ago, Christian Mullin was a high school soccer star in East Lansing, Michigan, fielding recruiting pitches from college coaches, including one at an NCAA Division I program.
But even then Mullin knew that his college choice would hinge on matters that had little to do with soccer.
“I wanted to choose the best academic fit,” said Mullin, now a senior biology major at Elmhurst. “And it was important that I be able to do more than play soccer.”
Mullin has indeed managed to squeeze a lot into his four years at Elmhurst—including some winning soccer. Mullin, a cornerstone of one of the nation’s best defenses, was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association 2014 All Central Region team. His senior season included a memorable game against North Park in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin tournament semifinals, when he scored the Bluejays’ only goal in a 1-1 tie, then converted a shootout penalty kick to help Elmhurst advance.
Mullin has been busy off the soccer pitch, as well.
For the past year, he has collaborated with Associate Professor Stacey Raimondi on research into the molecular mechanisms of breast cancer, searching for clues to ways to shut down the most invasive cancers. One of three students working on the project, Mullin will coauthor an article reporting their findings for a science journal.
Inspired by a sophomore-year semester in Barcelona, Mullin has worked for the past two years as a study-away ambassador. His duties include explaining to first-year students the benefits of studying abroad.
And Mullin has even found time to pursue his personal interest in making music. A self-taught pianist, guitarist and beat boxer, he has written and recorded a dozen of his own compositions, some of which he debuted at a recital for his music production class last year.
“I’ve had so many different kinds of experiences, and I think that’s what college should be about,” Mullin said.
Mullin knew he wanted a well-rounded college experience. He was determined not only to play intercollegiate soccer, but also to study abroad. And because Mullin was interested in preparing for a career in health care, a strong academic program was a must. What ultimately sold him on Elmhurst was a visit to the College’s Patterson Center for the Health Professions.
“They were able to map out for me all the opportunities I could have, and they were so helpful and their presentation was so professional,” he said. “I could see they were the real deal.”
Mullin’s many interests have made for some scheduling complications. He has learned to juggle soccer, music and research. He said it helps that his professors and coaches have been understanding and accommodating. When Mullin was looking for part-time work as a deejay several years ago, it was Head Coach Dave Di Tomasso who helped him find an internship that earned Mullin course credit.
“Time management is really important, and so is communication,” Mullin said.
“I’ve learned that people appreciate it when you communicate with them and let them know when there is a conflict.”
Mullin’s tip for making the most of study time is a simple one: Turn off your phone. He said he has learned to shut down his cell phone for 45 minutes of work, then reward himself with a short timeout for texting before getting back to work.
Mullin will likely be putting his time-management skills to work in the years ahead. He plans to apply to dental schools after his graduation in May, and hopes that there will be more soccer in his future, too. He is considering trying out for a semiprofessional team in his native Michigan.
“I just love learning and I don’t want to regret not having tried something,” he said. “I don’t want to look back some day and say, ‘I wish I had done that.’”