“MVA turned out to be the solution I had really needed…”
Elite swimmer and ice hockey player Mira Pavalek, age 13, opens up about the challenges of juggling sports with traditional schooling and how joining Minerva's Virtual Academy (MVA) has been 'transformative' and 'incredibly cool.'
Tell us about what made you join MVA?
The turning point in my academic and athletic journey was the discovery of MVA. My mom stumbled upon it on social media, and it sounded almost too good to be true— an online school for athletes. I thought this was incredibly cool!
The traditional schooling routine had left me drained and unable to fully engage in social activities with friends and compromised my recovery from hard training sessions. My days consisted of early morning practices, school, fitness sessions, and training.
MVA turned out to be the solution I had really needed. The flexibility it provided was great. I could choose morning practices or have leisurely mornings, savouring breakfast without rushing. Lessons are engaging and interactive that make learning enjoyable.
How do you feel now in terms of the energy that you have to devote to your sport but also to your education?
Yeah, actually I am learning way more than last year now and I finally feel like myself. My previous school was a constant stress with tests, pop quizzes, homework overload and the perpetual fear of grades dictating our lives.
At Minerva's Virtual Academy, it's a different story. We have access to recorded lessons, giving us the chance to revisit and understand topics better.
Tell us a little bit more about how that's impacted your performance?
In competitions, my biggest challenge has been managing stress, which is a common struggle for athletes. However, I've been actively working on controlling my anger and stress, thanks to the techniques I've learned at the MVA high performance club.
Tell me a little bit more about academic mentoring?
From the very beginning, my experience at MVA has been positive. I tend to be a bit slow with my homework, but the support here has been fantastic. I missed a couple of assignments, but my teacher assured me it was normal during the initial weeks and even offered to send me what I missed.
What are some of the things that you didn’t have time for previously that you do now?
One significant change since joining MVA is the freedom and time to see friends and even travel. Now, I can seamlessly combine schoolwork with travel, be it by car or plane. I've relished watching lessons on my laptop and cherishing the opportunity to hang out with friends multiple times a week as well as have more flexibility in my training and competition schedule. I attended my best friend’s birthday party which I have not been able to do before, and even started reading more despite having dyslexia.
What is your favourite subject and why?
Science and English are my favourite subjects at MVA. Science intrigues me because it’s filled with fascinating experiments and insights into the world around us.
How has the transition from physical school been?
My expectations about MVA were spot on. It matched what I had seen on YouTube, and I was truly impressed with how the school presented itself. It felt like the perfect fit after watching those interviews. However, when I actually joined, it was even better than I imagined. Unlike my previous school, here, you have the freedom to be yourself. You can attend classes in your pyjamas or whatever makes you comfortable since you’re learning from home. The only requirement is to be respectful and organised.
Do you have any sporting career goals yet?
I dream of competing in both the Summer and Winter Olympics, but I understand the importance of setting incremental goals to get there. Right now, I'm working on improving my swimming times, with my coach pushing me hard to reach specific milestones. I have swam qualification times for Luxembourg Junior National team and aim to maintain my presence there and to qualify to European level junior competitions first, in particular for 100 back, and 50 and 100 freestyle events.