He shoots, he scores!
“As a kid, I always dreamed I would become a professional soccer player. I always envisioned those words being announced to a roaring crowd of soccer fans after I scored a winning goal…not after draining a three-pointer in the final moments of a basketball game.”
Flash forward to Adult Nelson and he’s playing Varsity Basketball for Laurentian University and has enjoyed every second of it.
Here’s my story.
When I was fifteen, I left my home in Cameroon. At first, I didn’t want to leave, I wanted to stay close to my family, but my parents knew there would be more opportunities for me in the future if I left.
They were right.
I headed to the United States and enrolled in high school. At first, having to learn English was the biggest barrier. My brother attended the same school and thankfully was able to provide support and guidance and I began to do well in my classes. That had always been a goal for me – get good grades.
Another goal was to play (and do well playing) sports. I knew success in sports would open a lot of doors for me.Unfortunately, my new school in Atlanta did not have a soccer team (there went my dreams of becoming a pro).
It did, however, have a basketball team.
One day, I was just playing around in the gym and started dunking. The coach saw me and invited me to come practice with the team. I don’t know what got into me that day, but I had an amazing practice and he gave me a jersey. The next day, trust me, I didn’t play that great. The first game didn’t go nearly as well as that first practice, but I continued to work hard and improve my talents on the team.
As a student, I worked hard to improve my skills and achieve A’s. I worked hard on learning English and began to see real results. As my time at high school was coming to an end, I found that sports and education were beginning to pave the way for me.
After graduating, I looked north to institutions where my skills on the basketball team could help enhance my experiences as a student. My brother played for a university in Canada, and his coach recommended I look to Laurentian University.
Since I was a kid, I’ve always been attracted to science. I would spend time with my dad studying math, physics, chemistry and from there, engineering peaked my interest.
The fact that Laurentian is bilingual and I could take classes in French was a big factor. I enrolled in Liberal Science in 2011, with the eventual goal of graduating from Mechanical Engineering. I found that school, work and basketball made for a very busy schedule. I did my best to ensure my grades remained high, my skills on the court remained sharp and I could work part-time to support it all.
In 2014, something terrible happened: I was a victim of identity theft.
I lost my status and had to leave Laurentian. This was a very trying time, but did what I could to ensure I could come back and finish my degree.
Thankfully things worked out. After being away for two years, I was able to return and am thrilled to be back. Laurentian has been great to me. It’s like home to me. I can’t say enough about the institution, the teachers, the students, the employers, the coaches, everything.
As an international student, I faced a number of challenges to get where I am today. Laurentian has done a lot to support me. My proudest moment as an athlete is yet to come – I want to win it all, I want that championship. My proudest moment as a student will be when I can cross the stage at convocation.
I am so thankful that Laurentian University has given me the tools to achieve my goals and succeed at the next chapter of my life.
– Nelson Yengue