May 2012 Volume 9

My College Experience So Far

Giovanni Ashman
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Giovanni received a George Thompson Memorial Fund Old Boy Award in 2011

My experiences at college began in August, 2008 when I first attended The University of Technology (UTech), in Jamaica. Presently, I am a student-athlete at the University of South Carolina, Aiken (USCA). Before I proceed directly to the good, the bad and the indifferent of my actual college journey, I would like to give a brief synopsis of how I ended up at both colleges, how I learnt that sometimes things that initially seem unfavorable can turn out to be beneficial, and how all this made me realize the awesomeness of God and solidified my faith in His works and existence.

I had always wanted to attend college in America and I was awarded a soccer scholarship to attend USCA in 2008; however, some issues with the NCAA (governing body for American college athletics) prevented me from actually doing so. This left me disheartened, but luckily I had a plan B. To always have a plan B is something that I have learnt over the years from my father, Paul Ashman, who always tells me never to put all my eggs in one basket. This plan B was to attend UTech.

I entered UTech with a bitter mind as I really did not want to be there, and to be quite frank, I was honestly not ready for college. I had way too many friends at UTech, I played ball, I was a 'ladies man', I loved to dress up, and I just wanted to have a good time. In other words, I was not settled. I even skipped classes, and the ones that I did not skip, I used as nap time. As a result, my grades were nowhere near as high as I would have liked, or that I was capable of.

I lackadaisically spent two years at UTech, but then I was faced with a financial quandary: The savings that had paid for my first two years had run out and I was uncertain as to how my upcoming third year expenses would be covered. This frustrated me as I did not want to stop school, but I felt like I was wasting precious time, potential and money. Then, I had an epiphany; I re-contacted the soccer coach from USCA and he was still willing to offer me a scholarship. I successfully appealed to the NCAA and to my surprise my dream came true: I ended up at college in America.

After taking a keen note of how my opportunities unfolded, I knew that God had worked in such a way as to prepare me for when He thought that I was ready for the challenge, college in America. This marked the beginning of a new, more focused and more spiritually oriented Giovanni Ashman.

This time, I entered college with a much more serious frame of mind, similar to that of when I attended Kingston College (2001-2007), where I was always a top achiever in my grade form. With this renewed frame of mind, I was back to being present, punctual and attentive in every class, reading ahead, doing assignments immediately, and consulting professors whenever I was uncertain about a particular subject topic. This mindset was necessary, as the workload and curriculum requirements in the US college system seem to surpass that of the Jamaican college. I knew that if I were to slack off, I would not be able to achieve the A's that I was focused on getting. I'm happy to say that I have thus far been successful in this, with a current cumulative GPA of 3.598.

It has not been easy as a student-athlete faced with demanding morning and night practices and sometimes games where I have to be out of town for the entire weekend. Many times fatigue and frustration get the better of me. Also, the physical requirements here in America include a great deal of running and weight lifting, and this regimen takes away a lot of my enjoyment for the beautiful game; sometimes it seems more as if I am training for track and field, and I hate running! Recent obstacles like injuries and expenses have contributed to my feeling overwhelmed, particularly as I have been forced to find a job on campus to help support myself.

So basically, I have to juggle playing soccer, getting good grades in school, working, and all my other responsibilities, as well as my desire to stay connected with family members and loved ones back home. In the midst of everything, however, I have realized that God always finds a way for me, and as a result, I have drawn much closer to Him. I have started going to church every Sunday, praying much more, and reading my Bible and Daily Bread every day. It is as if we have an interpersonal relationship and this routine has become a part of me. Now it seems like I am at a level of maturity where no matter what obstacle comes my way, I know that God has me in His best interest, and that He only puts me through these storms to prepare me for much better.

I have experienced and learnt a lot thus far from attending college in both Jamaica and America. I must say, though, that being at USCA has been quite challenging, from bruised rib cartilages, to a broken wrist (which I am going to have surgery on this coming summer), to the passing of my grandmother, just to name a few. Sometimes I feel like giving up and going back home, as it is extremely difficult to face these challenges when my family is not close by, especially when these wounds are fresh. Many believe the stereotype that America is a 'bed of roses' when it really is not. I thought life was hard living in Jamaica, but being here opened my eyes to the real world where I have to work for what I want. Throughout this struggle, however, I still find the strength and motivation through Jesus to keep pushing as I know one day I will look back and smile at all that has been accomplished in my life.

 "Fortis Cadere Ceder Non Potest."

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