Marc Collado: Balancing life in the classroom and on the tennis court

Carolyn Cushwa
February 15, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Marc Collado is not your average student. He’s also not your average student athlete. Between the halls of Leonhard Building and the busy tennis courts on East Campus, you can often find him walking briskly between the two obligations that battle for priority in his busy life.

Collado is a senior studying industrial engineering (IE), with a minor in Six Sigma. He is also the captain of the men’s tennis team, and a recipient of the Nicholas Kay Scholarship within the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial Engineering. This scholarship was awarded to Collado in recognition of an IE student who shows superior academic success and motivation. He also serves as the men’s tennis team’s representative for the Student Athlete Advisory Board.

Born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, Collado came to Penn State knowing absolutely no one. A recruit for the tennis team, he decided to take a risk by moving to the United States for four years to get an education while continuing to play his favorite sport, tennis.

“In Barcelona, if you’re not pursuing a professional career in tennis, there are no college tennis programs like we have here in the states,” Collado said. “It’s really hard to combine athletics and academics there. It’s just different because you are either going pro, or you quit. There is no in between.”

Because he was not ready to give up tennis, and he still wanted a good education, Collado decided moving to America was the answer.

“My brother is seven years older than me, and he played tennis as well. He considered coming here (to the United States) for school but decided against it, and he always regretted that,” Collado said. “When it was my turn, he pushed me a little bit to come here.”

When choosing a school, two strong forces made Penn State an easy choice for Collado: the men’s tennis program and the College of Engineering.

“I knew I wanted to be an engineer, and Penn State has a great program,” explained Collado. “I did the research and when I visited campus, I liked the engineering program and the tennis program, so I knew it was a good match for me.”

Once at Penn State, Collado explored his options and quickly found his niche with IE. Its combined focus on engineering and business made it perfect for him and his interests, and he quickly was at home within the Marcus department.

“I like IE because it’s such a broad area, so you can do a lot with the degree,” he said. “I didn’t really want to do a technical major like mechanical or chemical engineering or anything like that, and I knew with IE I could do pretty much anything.”

Collado also participated in a six-week internship this past summer working for Herta Security in Los Angeles. As a technical support engineer there, he gained valuable experience in the field while getting the chance to explore even more of the United States.

“I knew I wanted to stay in America for the internship because most likely I’m going to go back home to Spain after college, so I wanted to have something here … Los Angeles was amazing, I loved living there,” he said.

Balancing a rigorous course load with his participation in a Division I sport like tennis is not an easy task. Time management has become one of Collado’s biggest priorities, and staying on top of his obligations is incredibly important to him.

“I guess the biggest challenge for me is time. Finding time to study and especially for things like group projects is hard. It’s difficult to meet with people around my schedule because I have so many conflicts,” he said.

For Collado, free time is not an easy thing to come by. His days begin with classes starting first thing in the morning, followed by tennis practice every day from 2:30-5 p.m. with a team lifting and conditioning session immediately following. After that, he uses what time is left in the day to eat dinner, shower and study.

When asked how he manages all of his obligations, his answer was simple:

“It’s difficult, but you just have to be organized and make sure that every day you do a little bit of work. Even if you don’t have exams it’s good to just try to work ahead,” he explained.

This dedication to working hard and getting the job done is reflected in nearly every aspect of Collado’s life. At the age of 5 he began playing tennis, and he quickly became devoted to the sport, working hard to continue his career as much as possible.

“Tennis has always been my sport. I loved it from the beginning, and I always knew I wanted to keep playing for as long as possible,” he said.

Now, in his senior year at Penn State, Collado has nothing but pride for his team. He has seen an immense improvement in the performance of the team during his career here.

“We weren’t quite as good when I got here, we were unranked,” he said. “These past two years we reached the top 16, and right now we’re seeded 29th or 30th, which is really good,” Collado said. “After four years here, I definitely feel like a leader not just on the court, but off the court as well.”

However, with his final year quickly approaching its close, he knows it is time to think about the future.

“After graduation I will most likely move back to Barcelona. I want to get my master’s in the engineering field, and then hopefully find a job relating to that in Spain,” he said.

While the end to Collado’s competitive tennis career is quickly approaching, he says he could never completely give up the sport.

“In 10 years I see myself living and working in the IE field back in Spain, having completed my master’s degree,” Collado said. “I’m not looking to keep playing tennis competitively, but I’m still looking to coach, or do summer camps or play with friends. I’ve been playing all my life, so I don’t think I'm just going to be throwing out my rackets any time soon. I just won’t be playing as competitively as I always have.”

He has been ranked in the Top 75 in the Spanish men’s rankings, and has used his leaderships skills to lead the tennis team both on and off the court during his time at Penn State. All while managing a full course load.

“It was definitely a little bit hard, coming here as a freshman. It was my first time away from home and my English was pretty bad,” he said. “The first months were difficult learning to keep up with classes and things like that. But being on the team helped so much, and I was able to make friends right away. Now I love it here.”

  •  Collado and his research group present their project at the Engineering Design Showcase.

     Collado and his research group present their project at the Engineering Design Showcase.

    IMAGE: Penn State
  • Marc Collado's official tennis team photo

    Marc Collado was serving as the team captain for men's tennis in his senior year.

    IMAGE: Penn State
  • Marc Collado celebrating a win on the tennis court.

    After graduation, Collado plans to return to Spain to pursue a master's degree in engineering.

    IMAGE: Penn State
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Last Updated February 15, 2017