Beyond the title: Bratton excels as a student in ocean engineering
Lisa Bratton has always loved being outdoors and jumping in the water. Marrying these two passions in college has proven to be the ultimate success story.
“I was an extremely active child, so my favorite childhood memory would have to be any time spent playing outdoors,” Bratton said. “Whether that was with friends, playing catch with my dad, playing with Sandy our dog or simply entertaining myself.”
Bratton, a senior in the Department of Ocean Engineering at Texas A&M University, is also the captain and a member of the women’s swim team.
“All the males in my family are civil engineers--my dad, his dad, my mom’s dad--so I’ve always been drawn to engineering, but I wanted to do something a little different,” Bratton said. “When I learned about ocean engineering, it sounded like the perfect way to apply civil engineering in a different environment. And to top it off, I truly do love the water.”
Pursuing a degree in engineering while juggling the demands of being a student athlete may be daunting enough, but tack on training for the Olympic trials and holding the school records for the 200 backstroke, 400 medley relay and being the 2016 SEC champion, and the questions arise of how she handles the demands of each. However, the most recent honor came in 2018 when she was named the SEC Female Scholar Athlete of the Year.
“This award keeps me focused and reminds me of the balance needed to succeed,” Bratton said. “Sometimes you have to be a student-athlete, and sometimes you have to be an athlete-student. In the end, it all works out if you just keep your head down, do the work and trust the process.”
The journey hasn’t always been easy. Bratton is most proud of the way she has learned to balance school and swimming.
“I set high standards for myself and my first semester was rough,” Bratton said. “I’ve come a long way. I’m proud of all the hard work I have put in to be where I am today.”
Bratton acknowledges that she could not have achieved these accomplishments without support from her family and team, but most importantly, her dad.
“He has helped me work out many homework problems, showed me the value of hard work, and what it means to do what you love and love what you do,” Bratton said. “My dad, after taking many years off, continues to swim simply because he enjoys it. He worked hard at his job because he knew that’s what it takes. And he always found time for family time. I learned the value of balance, hard work and finding the fun in what you do by watching my dad.”
The greatest honor she has received to date was being named captain of the swim team.
“This team works extremely hard day in and day out in the pool and in the classroom. It is an honor that they see me in a position to lead them and I’m proud to compete side-by-side with them,” Bratton said.
While she is still searching for her dream job, Bratton knows she was meant to be around the water.
“I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do, but ideally, I would like to work with renewable energy resources or coastal environments,” Bratton said. “In a perfect world, if I could make a living swimming, that may take the cake.”
Bratton encourages those looking to journey upon similar paths to go for whatever it is, no matter how difficult it may seem.
“Going into college everyone asked, ‘How are you going to do it, engineering and swimming?’” Bratton said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I knew I wanted to do it. If it was easy it wouldn’t be any fun! So enjoy the process, don’t get too bogged down with school, and take some time for yourself – I promise there is time.”