Assistant Director of the Office of International Education at Marquette University Susan Whipple speaking during Monday’s workshop.

US Embassy opens door with student-athlete programme

Several of the island’s aspiring student athletes had a clearer path set before them as they had some of the myths surrounding studying in the United States of America debunked during the Student Athlete Recruitment Workshop hosted by the US Embassy. Held on Monday at the Barbados Community College, students from many of the island’s secondary schools came out to explore their possibilities of gaining a degree in the US.

The workshop was delivered by Assistant Director of the Office of International Education at Marquette University Susan Whipple and she took the opportunity to inform prospective students of the options open to them. Noting that the application process can be a daunting one, particularly for athletes, Whipple paid special attention to notifying those in attendance about the opportunities available at a Division 2 or Division 3 colleges under the banners of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the National Junior College Athletic Association as viable alternatives to the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Speaking to the Barbados Advocate the Deputy Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy Gaina Davila noted that Whipple had over 22 years of experience in the field and was well versed in demystifying everything involved with applying to study in the country. Going on to say that the US had one of the highest rates of international students in the world, Davila added that it was imperative that everyone was given an equal chance to pursue overseas education. “Our goal essentially is to ensure that the students here are able to understand the process from the point of applying all the way up to admissions. It’s not just for them to get in, but we want them to thrive and to thrive you have to have knowledge. You have to have information about what it means to go through the process and that is the whole point of this programme today.”

With the Education USA Advising Centre on the island housed at the Barbados Community College, Davila said that its role was important in finding the right fit for all prospective students as the Division 1 schools were not the only ones capable of turning out well-rounded citizens and athletes. “It is really important to understand that not one size fits all and it’s really important to understand that different persons have different needs. So while the big-name schools will seem flashy and fancy, I think it’s important to give credence to other schools who excel and do well. At the end of the day it’s not just the top-name schools that are producing successful academic students and athletes, but it’s also the lesser-known schools. But they’re not lesser in value nor are lesser in what they are able to produce.” she said.

With former student athletes Richele LeSaldo, who played tennis, and Anicia Wood, who played volleyball for her school, also on-hand to answer questions of the budding athletes, Davila said the opportunities were endless as many schools catered to many sports. “First and foremost, we value international students. So when you have a student coming from Barbados entering the United States, they are given a wealth of resources. They are able to engage with persons of all calibres of society within their university regardless of what the name of that university might be. So that is what we are presenting. Not one size fits all and we are tailoring this to all types of students so that they can be successful. At the end of the day, the value of holding a degree from the United States is in no way devalued by the name of that school. Some of the very best schools in the world are housed in the United States and we want to make sure that all kids have the opportunity to learn more about that,” she said. (MP)

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