Magdalena Knapp '20

Photo of Magdalena Knapp '20


  • Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society McKendree Chapter President

  • Phi Eta Sigma Bill W. Shafer Scholarship recipient

  • Co-Editor of The McKendree Review

  • Women’s Swimming Team Captain

  • Psi Chi International Honor Society for Psychology and Social Sciences

By Grant Riggs ‘19

Magdalena Knapp ‘20, from Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy, has found multiple ways to make her mark on the campus of McKendree University. The junior has made an impact through athletics, as the captain of the women’s swimming team, through extracurricular activities such as editing for The McKendree Review and serving as president of the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.

Quotation Graphic"The best part without doubt is the people I’ve gotten to meet. I have met people from all around the world that are all unique and have their own story. Sometimes, when I walk around campus, it seems as if we were all one big family."


Through different activities, Magdalena has found one common thread among the people at McKendree. “Everyone who works on this campus is very caring and always ready to help,” says Magdalena. “Meeting all those people has helped me to broaden my mind and become the person I am today.”

Although Magdalena is involved in many extracurricular activities, it was swimming that ultimately drew her to the University. “I’ve swam my whole life, and I could not and did not want to imagine a life without it. When I heard that there was a coach (James Tierney) at McKendree University who was building a new program, I was all about it.”

Coming from overseas, Magdalena did not have the same opportunities to visit campus as other students. While choosing a school she knew little about was a difficult decision, it was one that paid off. “I had not seen the campus before I came here for the first time,” Magdalena said. “But I think if I would have seen it, that would have been just another reason to come here. I love everything about McKendree University.”

“Mags, as her teammates affectionately call her, took a gamble on a school that she had never visited and on a coach that she had met only once before,” Tierney said. “She has been an absolute blessing for us all, growing into one of our most influential leaders in and out of the pool. We have some really committed athletes on this team and she is one of the most driven ones. She has been as successful as a student as she has in the pool, and does it all with a smile each and every day.”

Photo of Magdalena Knapp '20

As a freshman, Magdalena was one of just five swimmers who made up McKendree’s inaugural Women’s Swimming & Diving Team. After two years of commitment to the sport, Magdalena finds herself as captain of a team that has grown to 17 members and hopes to compete for a GLVC title this upcoming season.

Outside of the pool, Magdalena serves vital roles for Phi Eta Sigma and The McKendree Review. As president of Phi Eta Sigma, she is in charge of organizing their homecoming weekend, reaching out to people around campus and connecting them to the honor society.

For The McKendree Review, Magdalena is in charge of editing articles and posting them on their homepage, She also recruits new writers and is constantly searching for story ideas, which she says is her favorite part of the job.

In order to balance each of her commitments, she has mastered the ability to manage her hours. “Since I have been swimming my whole life, I had to balance school and crazy practice times. I got pretty good at time management. I usually do my homework the day it was assigned, so I avoid having a huge mountain of homework in one day,” said Magdalena. “I also really enjoy having extracurricular activities, they keep me busy and I like doing them, so it has never been a huge problem for me having stressful days.”

After McKendree, Magdalena has aspirations to continue her story in a sport psychology career. “I want to finish my Master’s degree in Italy, because it makes it easier to find a job back home,” she said. “I would like to finish my master in psychology, and then add a special education for sport psychology, because this is the field I ultimately want to work in. I want to help athletes back home and work with them, including my experiences I have made at McKendree as an athlete.”

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