Though the opportunity to become a student-athlete is often taken for granted in the United States, less privileged countries’ youth dream of this lifestyle — which is where Santiago Sierra stepped in. A recent kinesiology graduate from the U, Sierra was a member of the tennis team and is now partnered with Coach for College, a global service project that aims to inspire higher learning through athletics.
Sierra and other student-athletes on campus were familiar with different volunteer opportunities in Salt Lake City, but when he received an email from the U’s athletic department about an opportunity in Vietnam, Sierra could not pass the project up. He soon was put into contact with the director of operations of Coach for College, and after receiving partial scholarships from Coach for College, support from Nona Richardson, a senior associate athletics director, the U’s athletic department and financing the rest himself, he was finally able to go to Vietnam.
Santiago and other student-athletes from all over the United States held a three week camp in small farming communities for seventh and eighth grade students. Though the language barrier was difficult at first, and the “basics,” such as showers and internet, were lacking, Sierra feels that those difficulties were far outweighed by the deep connections and impact he felt he had made.
Find this article and a lot more in the 2019 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers and entrepreneurs.