A day in the life of a student athlete

5 Mins read
Benjamin Rosengard

At UC San Diego, Benjamin Rosengard found the perfect outlets for his passion for baseball and international affairs

For Master of International Affairs ’25 candidate Benjamin Rosengard, baseball and academics have always been a joint journey. 

Rosengard, a Chicago native, began as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago and then took a leave of absence, transferring to a junior college in Waco, Texas, to play baseball. He was then recruited to finish his degree and play baseball at Rice University in Houston, where he was a pre-med student and earned a B.S. in biosciences. 

“I had one more year of eligibility for college baseball and have always had aspirations to play professionally, so I wanted to find a university that would give me the opportunity to play baseball for an additional year but also where I could be challenged academically,” Rosengard explained. 

And that was how Rosengard discovered the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy’s MIA program. 

“I’ve had an interest in international affairs since undergrad, and the academic focus at GPS aligned perfectly with my interests in the Pacific and Latin America,” Rosengard said. “I decided that it was the best opportunity for both of my worlds to continue forward.”

In this Q&A, Rosengard shares how he balances his busy schedule and some of his favorite things about being a master’s student and living in San Diego.

Do you have a favorite thing about being a master’s student, compared to being an undergraduate?

As a master’s student, you have the independence and flexibility that you don’t have as an undergraduate. As an undergrad, you may have some “busy work” assignments due every class, but you don’t have to worry about that in a master’s program. I think it allows you to take time to understand the concepts instead of worrying about turning little assignments in; you can take a step back and really understand it.

What’s your favorite thing about UC San Diego?

Chicago is my hometown, so I will always think that’s the best city in the world, but very few people are lucky enough to go to college in a town that’s half as nice as La Jolla, California. It’s incredible that I can be at the beach in eight minutes after baseball practice ends. I can’t emphasize enough what a unique place this is.

Do you have a favorite class you’ve taken so far?

This is not a popular answer among my cohort, but I really enjoyed Quantitative Methods I with professor Teevrat Garg. I come from a math background with my pre-med studies, so I’ve taken statistics and stuff like that, which meant QM 1 was really up my alley. I also loved the Foundations of Strategic Studies course with V. Adm. Robert Thomas and microeconomics with professor Gordon McCord

Are there any particular professors or staff members who have already made a big impact on you?

Even when I’m in large lecture courses, the professors are so great about working with you on an individual basis. All the professors are very accessible, and they’re also some of the best resources; they want to help you make connections in the real world. 

Separately, Nancy Gilson in Student Affairs and Stephanie Boomhower in the Career and Professional Development Center have been phenomenal. Stephanie has helped me a lot with applications and helped guide my path a little bit based on my interests. Everyone on staff provides a great support system; they really want you to succeed, and they try to help you out as much as they can.

What advice do you have for students who have been admitted to GPS?

I didn’t take the Prep course over the summer because I satisfied the requirements beforehand and also had summer baseball, but I do think that course is very beneficial and I wish I had taken it. The students who participated built those connections with our classmates very quickly, and I’ve had to work harder at that because of my busy schedule. Overall, whether you take the Prep courses or not, it’s really important to make an effort to meet your fellow classmates because one day you’re probably going to be working together on class projects, and there’s some really interesting people from very different backgrounds. 

And I will offer a heads up that there will be a lot of challenging days ahead. I loved Quantitative Methods I but have not loved Quantitative Methods II with all the coding. At some point during this program, you’ll be sitting at your computer like, “Oh my god, am I ever going to be able to get out of here?” A lot of those pre-med classes I took in undergrad taught me to persevere. There will be times where you’re not going to fully understand something, and you have to advocate for yourself to go seek help to understand the material. And you will — it all works out. So it’s important to stick with it and understand that some of the tools you’re learning are eventually going to come in handy and be beneficial one day in your career. 

With your busy schedule, what steps do you take to try to strike a work-life balance?

Baseball is the outlet for my work-life balance. When I’m not studying, I’m usually on the baseball field or the weight room, so that’s what feels balanced for me. Baseball provides me some time and space outside of classes to gather myself and let go of any academic stressors and just enjoy being out there, and then I come back to the books refreshed. 

Outside of school and baseball, what are your other interests?

I’d say my biggest one is travel. My parents are so supportive of everything I have done, and they blessed me with the opportunity to travel from a young age. I’ve been to more than 40 countries. I am also a dual citizen of the U.S. and Israel, and I’ve represented Team Israel in the 2023 European Championships and look forward to playing with the Israeli National Team at future events, hopefully including the World Baseball Classic and the Olympics.  

I’m also a big restaurant guy and I love trying new places, especially Italian restaurants. My family and I are big board game players, so when we’re at home, we’ll light a fire and play those together, which is really fun. And languages have been an interest of mine from a young age. I speak five of them: English is my native language, and then Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese and Spanish. I don’t get to practice them all the time, but I’m to the point where once I get to a country where one of those languages is spoken, I can pick it right back up in a couple of weeks, which is awesome.

After graduation, what do you hope to do?

I would love to play professional baseball, but if that doesn’t work out, I have several other paths I’m interested in: in government, I would love to be an ambassador or Foreign Service agent or work for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). And then with my undergraduate degree in pre-med, I could see myself working with the Human Health Commission, Doctors without Borders or the Red Cross. And with my sports interest, I could see pursuing a role with the Olympic Committee in Switzerland, or a role with a Major League Baseball office in the Latin America or Japan divisions. Right now I’m looking in 17 different directions, but one of these days I’ll figure it out.

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About author
Virginia S. Watson is the Assistant Director of Communications for the School of Global Policy and Strategy. She has spent her entire career in editing, writing and design, both in industry and higher education. She holds a master's in technical and professional communication from Auburn University and a B.S. in journalism from Troy University.
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