Scholar-Athletes Score High in Class and On The Court
They give their all on the court and in the classroom. They are PCCC’s scholar-athletes, who play great basketball and achieve academic heights. Recently, a group of them gathered in the game room to talk about sports, studies, and what it means to be a scholar-athlete at PCCC.
The diverse group includes first-time college students, a student who played at a different college previously, and two who went to work after high school, then decided to enroll in college. Most were good students in high school, but one who was an underachiever said he transformed at PCCC.
“In high school, I just stopped trying,” said Nehemiah Yisrael, “When I got to PCCC, I knew it was time to get serious,” he said. “I just didn’t realize how much work came with each class.” “The coaches expect us to keep our grades up,” explained Joseph Mazzola, who worked for a year after high school, then had an opportunity to play basketball at PCCC. “It’s been a good experience here, in basketball and the classes.”
Paige Neal attended Morgan State University in Maryland before she came to PCCC. “The advisors at PCCC also help students stay on track,” she said. “They make sure you are doing ok.”
All agreed that playing basketball has had a positive effect on their classroom performance and vice-versa. “You learn time management,” said Travis McKenzie, an exercise science major who maintains a 4.0 GPA. “You have to balance your study time with practice and games.” Chevaughn Williams, another player with a 4.0 GPA, adds “You learn persistence and discipline. You learn that you can never give up.”
“You learn time management,” said Travis McKenzie, an exercise science major who maintains a 4.0 GPA. “You have to balance your study time with practice and games.”
Anais Peralta described her strategy for balancing sport and studies. “During game days, when we would come back to PCCC late, I knew that the day prior I had to focus on work, so that I wouldn’t fall behind.” Summing it up, Yasminah White, who was recently named Women’s Basketball Player of the Week, remarked, “You know you have to show up prepared and ready, whether it’s for a class or a game.”
Their GPA scores prove that these student-athletes definitely show up for class. An exercise science major, Nehemiah says his favorite class so far has been Ethics. “That course helps you to think outside the box,” he explained. “You learn to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand other human beings.”
Travis plans to become a physical therapist and says anatomy is his favorite class. Going the extra mile for his studies, Travis ordered a skeleton model of the human head from Amazon. “I wanted to study the structure of the human head in depth,” he explained.
Though their time is very limited outside of basketball and classes, some of the scholar athletes have managed to participate more fully in college life through other extracurricular activities. “One of my favorite parts of my journey here is tutoring,” says Chevaughn, a computer science major who tutors other students in all subjects.
Anais is involved with the Computer and Technology Club, but says, “It’s hard to fit into my schedule since meetings sometimes clash with class times.” Nehemiah urged other students at PCCC to get involved. He attends meetings at MOCSI, the Men of Color Success Initiative, and calls it “a great experience.”
The mental focus and drive that sustain these scholar-athletes on the court and in the classroom also motivate their post-PCCC plans.
After she graduates, Paige plans to go directly into a career. “I want to become a licensed realtor” says the business major, who already has had some professional experience. “Maybe in the future, though, I will return to school.”
Two of the athletes have entrepreneurial dreams. Joe, a business major, aims to open his own restaurant one day, while Chevaughn hopes to start a tech company. Psychology major Yasminah is considering a career as a therapist.
Anais and Nehemiah, both exercise science majors, are considering a career as sports physicians, but Nehemiah wants to first try for a professional basketball career. “My dream is to travel the world playing basketball,” he says. If that doesn’t come to pass, he wants to stay in the field as a doctor.
All players affirmed that they would encourage any prospective student, especially a student-athlete, to start their college education at PCCC. “They really care about you here: the faculty, the advisors, everyone,” says Joe. Yasminah added, “The staff is great, and there is more of a community feeling at PCCC, than at a four-year school.” Travis agreed and commented, “It’s not just about grades here. PCCC has a lot of resources and they really help their students to get to the next level.”
Deeply appreciative of her PCCC experience, Anais shares these thoughts: “The most rewarding part of being a scholar-athlete at PCCC has been the experience as a whole, but more importantly, the sense of community that is in the college. Every time you turn the corner, there is someone who can help you or direct you to get help. Plus, having a team that has stuck together through the season is a reward within itself.”
“The most rewarding part of being a scholar-athlete at PCCC has been the experience as a whole, but more importantly, the sense of community that is in the college. Every time you turn the corner, there is someone who can help you or direct you to get help. Plus, having a team that has stuck together through the season is a reward within itself.”