Sydney Shelstead ('17) | Engineering


Engineering major from Southlake, Texas

Beginning her second year at ACU, Sydney Shelstead doesn’t have to wonder what to do with her free time; she doesn’t have any.

Sydney came to ACU on a basketball scholarship, and she will rejoin Coach Julie Goodenough’s squad this fall after averaging more than 7 points and 4 rebounds per game as a freshman. But she also plans to reprise her role as a discus thrower on the ACU track and field team, practicing when it won’t interfere with basketball games.

In the classroom, Sydney is part of ACU’s new – and incredibly popular – engineering program, in its third year as part of the Department of Engineering and Physics. She plans to become a biomedical engineer.

“Most of the time, I’m doing school, homework, basketball, sleeping and eating.”

Basketball was Sydney’s life growing up. She’s played since second grade, and both of her parents are coaches, leading the family to move often as they moved from job to job. Her mother was her coach through eighth grade, and her father coached her in high school.

“I think it made me a better player,” she said, although it was “kind of stressful. I loved it.”

As a high school junior, she was in demand, fielding multiple offers from colleges wanting her to commit early. Once she visited ACU’s campus, however, she said there was no contest.

“I knew I wanted to go to a Christian college.”

ACU wasn’t too big and had an engineering program.

“It felt like home. I committed the day after my visit.”

With a lifelong interest in math and science, Sydney said she has enjoyed taking engineering classes. Conversations with faculty have sparked an interest in biomedical engineering, which involves the construction of devices used in the medical field – such as prosthetics or MRI machines.

“It’s so one-on-one with all the professors. I can just walk in the office and know all of them personally.”

As a 6-foot-3 freshman, Sydney came off the bench to score double digits in six of her final 11 games for ACU. Goodenough, who has coached women’s basketball at ACU since 2012, is “like a second mom here in Abilene,” Sydney said.

“She really cares about us. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better because of her. She pushes me as hard as I can go.”

Sydney receives both academic and athletics scholarships offsetting the cost of her tuition.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have any scholarships. It makes me so grateful. This is an awesome education that I wouldn’t get anywhere else. I couldn’t be at a better place.”

ACU Undergrads at National Labs
ACU's engineering and physics students help conduct nuclear physics research at national labs each summer. See their experiences at Fermilab and Brookhaven.
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