Global Diversity Brings Mutual Benefits

College is an adjustment for everyone.

This statement rings especially true for a certain population of students at Radford University — namely, international student-athletes.

After all, in the words of Khushboo Thiagaraj, a member of Radford University’s women’s golf team who is from India, “the culture is very different here than back home. India is more conservative compared to American culture.”

And freshman soccer player Jakob Strandsäter noted that can be challenging to talk and study in English instead of Swedish — his first language.

Totaling 31 – 23 on men’s teams and eight on women’s teams (in addition to two international head coaches) – each international student-athlete at Radford University has a different story to tell about what landed her or him at Radford.

“The perfect size of the campus as well as the student population,” is the main reason why women’s tennis player Claire Nguyen, from Melbourne, Australia, enrolled, while other student-athletes cite the university’s commitment to their respective sports, Radford’s beautiful campus or strong coaching as the reason for their commitment to Radford. Men’s tennis player Alexandros Caldwell, from Athens, Greece, said that the reputation of the team and the coach’s passion for the sport attracted him.

Sophomore Lidija Mamic, from Split, Croatia, said her family is very supportive, even far away.  “They push me and are still there for me even miles away,” said Mamic.

But how – you might wonder – has the domestic Radford University community helped these student-athletes from across the globe adjust and address the unique challenges they face as international student-athletes?

For women’s basketball player Claudia Quevedo, from Spain’s Canary Islands, “… thankfully, I have my coaches, teammates and host family to help me transition.”

Furthermore, many international athletes have been surprised that domestic Radford University students are so friendly. “The biggest surprise was how interested Americans are in meeting new people,” said Strandsäter.

And, according to Nguyen, the most pleasant surprise was the welcome and help she received from all of her professors.

Radford University coaches are passionate about the benefits that international student-athletes bring to their sports and the campus community, and are always looking for new ways to recruit and bring them to campus.

According to men’s tennis coach Mike Anderson and men’s soccer coach Mike Reeves, many factors contribute to international student-athletes adjusting and thriving at Radford. Among the factors they cite are the tight-knit community, emphasis on dedication to excellence on and off the field, and campus-wide support and respect for international student-athletes as valuable members of the Radford family. 

May 19, 2016