Every Thursday, GoStanford.com will present an interview with a Stanford women’s gymnastics alumna. This week, sophomore Maggie Teets features Nicole Pechanec (‘12) who majored in architectural design and competed in the all-around.
Maggie: Can you describe what you have been doing since graduating from Stanford?
Nicole: I’ve worked at an architecture firm in Indianapolis and completed a few independent interior design projects. Last summer, I did an internship at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, researching space architecture and designing a Mars-Transit habitat.
I’m currently a program coordinator at USA Gymnastics as well as remotely working for an interior design company in the Bay Area. Something I’ve learned is that you won’t quite have things figured out when you graduate, so take things one step at a time.
Maggie: What lessons have you carried with you from your experience on the Stanford gymnastics team?
Nicole: Handling pressure situations. Job interviews, carrying different responsibilities, and having other people rely on your work all require poise under pressure. Also, finding something that you’re passionate about in order to give 100 percent is a value that SWG has taught me.
Maggie: What are your favorite Stanford memories?
Nicole: What a difficult question. Simple things like biking through the quad, studying outside and attending sporting events are some of my favorite memories.
Representing Stanford and wearing our cardinal red leotards was a great honor and always gave me goosebumps!
Maggie: What was your favorite competition?
Nicole: Anytime we competed at Stanford. I loved being in front of a home crowd. Also, beating Utah at Utah with 11,000 of their fans. The arena was amazing.
Finally, during my sophomore year at NCAA preliminaries, we were waiting in the locker room to find out if we qualified to Super 6 (actually, we were dancing on the counter-tops and singing completely off-tune). Dave, our journalist, walked in and informed us we made it. We didn’t believe him until Kristen came in and told us!
Maggie: Who was your favorite professor?
Nicole: I have two. Dr. Kimberly Moekle was my freshman and sophomore PWR (Program in Writing and Rhetoric) professor. She is a smart, independent, and confident woman with a great sense of humor, never taking herself too seriously. Also, Jonathan Edelman who taught my introduction to design class (ART 60) and was very critical of our work without being critical of his students. He taught me that no matter how good a design or idea is, the presentation is just as important.
Maggie: How is it now watching SWG compete versus being in the arena?
Nicole: I have always been proud of my teammates, and I still am. It’s also emotional. I’m reminded of competing – something that I miss every day – and I loved being out on the floor sharing my passion for the sport with my teammates and the audience.
We sit as a team in the stands though. Even though our lives have gone separate ways, we’re still a team, sitting and supporting the girls from the stands.
Maggie: Do you have any advice for the girls on the SWG team now?
Nicole: Don’t eat yogurt AND orange juice before weights [laughs]. Be sure to meet people outside the gym and take part in the many extra-curricular activities Stanford has to offer. Explore the Bay Area. Although you may sometimes feel caught up in school and gym, remember to stop to take it all in.
Especially that sunny 70-degree weather, you never know when you’ll end up shoveling snow every week.