She holds three UIndy Women’s Indoor Track records for the 800 meters, the mile, and the 3000 meters. She broke the Indoor Division II and the French national record for the mile in the same race. She is a two-time winning Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.
There is no challenge too great, no distance too far for Bérénice Cleyet-Merle ‘22 (Psychology, Business Administration).
Originally from Saint-Sulpice-Des-Revoires, France, Bérénice traveled across the Atlantic to study psychology at California Baptist University (CBU) in Riverside, California. While sunshine and beaches seem perfect for balancing study and stress, there was one problem: no indoor tracks.
“I had only indoor eligibility for track so I needed to find somewhere where they had an indoor track. In California, they don’t have indoor because it’s so warm. [In the midwest or] on the East coast, they have indoor because it snows. I looked at several options but then I had a friend from CBU who came to Butler so I thought, I’ll go [to Indiana to check it out].”
Greyhounds and UIndy track fans owe a huge thanks to Track and Field Assistant Head Coach Brad Robinson for believing in Bérénice and convincing her to transfer to UIndy.
“I didn’t have an athletically good year before I transferred. Most coaches wouldn’t give me a shot [on their teams.] My coach really believed in me and he believed that I could come back to my level.”
Coach Robinson saw the potential in Bérénice and is proud of the progress she has made not only personally, but for the team as well. He has no doubt Bérénice will continue to achieve great things.
Coach Robinson said, “Bérénice is a fun athlete to work with. She has challenged everyone around her to become better and has led our program to new heights. I am excited for the opportunities she has ahead of her, not only this weekend [at the NCAA Division II Championships] but professionally as well.”
When Bérénice isn’t on the track breaking national records, she’s in the classroom earning a double masters, one in psychology and one in business administration. When she first transferred to UIndy, Bérénice wanted to build upon her undergraduate studies in psychology, with the intention of becoming a psychiatrist. But as her studies progressed and more opportunities opened up for her, Bérénice began considering other career paths that may be better served by a Masters of Business Administration.
Both majors offer Bérénice a chance to experience the world and make impactful connections.
“I like the MBA program because we are going to travel to Hawaii. I love traveling. And for my masters in psychology, I have a professor who is a good mentor, Dr. Michael Poulakis. He is Greek, so it’s cool because he also understands the international part. I like that sometimes he follows my competitions and will tell me, ‘Oh I saw you. You did well.’”
Balancing academics and athletics is no easy feat, but Bérénice’s determination to succeed has helped her to excel in both worlds. Her perseverance has not gone unnoticed.
Dr. Poulakis said, “Bérénice was a star student. I admired her ability to focus both on academics and track. She never missed classes, she never used track as an excuse to delay a project or an assignment. As a former international student myself, I admired her ability to balance sports and academics at the graduate level while being away from France, from her friends, her family, her loved ones. Did I mention she did all these things while dealing with the COVID pandemic also?”
In addition to the challenges posed by a global pandemic, Bérénice overcame two challenges common to both international and transfer students: learning a new language and connecting with new people.
Bérénice offers this advice for UIndy international students who may be struggling with these challenges: “When they come they should definitely look for other international students because we click immediately due to our same experiences. It’s also easier for communication. Also join a sport or a club so that you can connect with people. It’s pretty lonely if you only go to class. It’s hard to meet people. Most of my friends are international students or my teammates.”
And those friends will certainly be cheering Bérénice on as she competes in the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships this weekend.
The question we’re all asking: Will she break another record and add another gold medal to her collection?
Her answer: “We’ll see.” (With a confident smile.)