JUGGLING her roles of elite athlete and university student, Tara Andrews soon realised she needed to draw on the similarities between her two worlds to push herself through her degree.
"Hard work and time commitment is the biggest one," Ms Andrews said.
"You need to put time and effort into study - engineering takes up a lot of time and is quite difficult, so you have to work hard at it.
"It's the same with soccer and training, you have to put the time in to get better, to stay fit, to work with your team.
"Sports people always push through. I'm competitive and I always want to finish something I've started."
The Newcastle Jets mid-fielder and striker will graduate with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours) from the University of Newcastle on Friday.
More than 4000 students will celebrate the end of their tertiary studies across four days of ceremonies.
UON will celebrate a milestone on Friday, when the number of Indigenous medical graduates surpasses 100.
"I feel pretty excited - it's the final hurdle of finishing uni," she said.
"I'm also sad because I won't get to see my friends as much as I want to. But overall I'm excited.
"I got through it and put the hard yards in and it all worked out.
"It's made me the most proud I've been in a while."
Ms Andrews completed the four year degree across six years.
She travelled to the United States to play in Colorado from April to August in 2014 and 2015.
The first trip she studied one subject, the second she paused her studies.
Ms Andrews was part of UON's Elite Athlete program, which gave her flexibility with exams and assessments so she could fulfil both her sporting and academic commitments.
"It definitely wasn't easy," she said.
"I guess I got pretty good at time management. I had to get work done when I was at uni - a lot of people would go get a coffee and do this and that, but I had to be more productive.
"There were a lot of long days - sometimes I had to do uni all day, go to training and then do uni when I got home."
Ms Andrews said there were times she wondered if she would better suited to a different degree.
"At the times when I had so much on, had soccer, uni, trying to work through problems would take you five days. Or I'd keep getting stuck.
"I'd think 'Am I smart enough to do this?' A lot of people drop out.
"Sometimes I nearly had a nervous breakdown and would think 'I can't do it'.
"But there's always a way to do it. I knew once I finished it would be a pretty good achievement."
Ms Andrews used to help her handyman father around the house and had always been good at maths and science.
She completed a 12 week placement as part of her degree with Australian Rail Track Corporation and has received a three year graduate engineer position.