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Magno Internacional: a Student-Athlete's Journey from São Paulo to BSC

At Bismarck State College, international students bring not only their diverse backgrounds but also their unique stories of ambition and perseverance. Mariana Elias, hailing from Brazil, shares her inspiring journey as a student-athlete, shedding light on the cultural differences, academic challenges and athletic triumphs she has encountered along the way.

What inspired you to pursue your sport, and how did you first get involved in it?

I began my track and field career in 2019. My mom's personal trainer noticed my potential as an athlete and suggested I try out for track and field. I attended a tryout at the Olympic Center in São Paulo, Brazil (Centro Olímpico de Treinamento e Pesquisa- COTP), where I discovered javelin throw and found my passion.

Can you tell me about the differences you've noticed between sports culture in your home country and here at our college?

The biggest difference I've noticed is the value placed on student-athletes here in the USA compared to Brazil. While studying at a university in Brazil, it was challenging to balance my studies with my athletic career. Additionally, in Brazil, fewer people are familiar with throws like javelin compared to the broader understanding of track and field in the USA.

How do you balance your academic responsibilities with your athletic commitments?

I rely heavily on organization and discipline to balance my academic and athletic commitments. I use tools like Google Calendar to plan and prioritize my tasks, ensuring I stay on top of both my studies and training schedule.

What do you enjoy most about being a student-athlete at our college?

I enjoy the balance between classes, practice and team events here at Bismarck State College. Everything I need is conveniently located, allowing me to seamlessly integrate my academic and athletic pursuits.

Can you share a memorable moment or achievement from your athletic career so far?

In 2021, I traveled to Argentina to train with an Olympic coach, which proved to be a turning point in my athletic career. Upon my return to Brazil, I won the state championship in the javelin throw, reaffirming the value of my sacrifices and hard work.
What advice would you give to other international students who aspire to pursue athletics in college?

 My advice would be to stay focused on your goals, work diligently every day, and embrace the challenges that come your way. While the journey may be tough, the rewards are worth it in the end.

What has been your favorite part about Bismarck?

My favorite aspect of Bismarck is the warmth and hospitality of the BSC community. Every staff member I've encountered has been kind and genuinely interested in my cultural background, making me feel welcome and appreciated.

What is your area of study, or what do you plan to do after college if you know?

I am studying Exercise Science, and my plan after college is to return to Brazil, pursue a master's degree, and ultimately work as a coach in high-level performance athletics.

What was it like to transition from Brazil’s climate to North Dakota's weather?

I feel that I am more used to the cold weather nowadays, but the beginning was very tough. Where I came from there is no snow and the weather is not so cold as here. I had bought some winter clothes, gloves and more to be prepared!

Did it take some getting used to North Dakota cuisine?

I am vegetarian, so the beginning was very hard because there was no option here at the Union. Specifically, because I eat more rice and beans (in fact, Brazilians eat them every day hahaha), but not fried food. And here I notice that they offer a lot of fried, fast food and more potatoes as carbohydrates, which is totally different from what is offered in my country. Then I asked if they could include some healthy vegan options and they included a vegan black beans hamburger and hummus to eat with wrap. The wrap is a food that I didn't use to eat at my country, but I think that now it is my favorite one. Even the workers always know what to put in my wrap!

Mariana Elias' journey exemplifies the resilience and determination of student-athletes at Bismarck State College. Her story serves as a testament to the transformative power of sports and education, transcending borders and inspiring others to pursue their passions relentlessly.

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