To every Arab student who dreams of studying abroad, everything is possible if you put your mind and effort into it. I am Habiba Aly from Cairo, Egypt, and I’m an Egyptian tennis player who competes both nationally and internationally. Tennis gave me the chance of going to the US to study and compete.
In the beginning, your goals may seem overwhelming and hard to achieve. However, I must emphasize that there is simply a list of procedures you need to follow to get there. Each type of path that you have — whether academic, athletic, artistic, or another — has a different list.
I will briefly tell you the list I was required to follow. The moment I started to compete internationally, I knew that if I was ranked worldwide and had some big wins, I could have the opportunity to get a full scholarship to study and play in the US. I was 13-years-old when I had this goal in mind. Since then, I played every match and showed up to every practice with this goal right in front of me. Even when I decided to study the British system (IGCSE) in high school, I still committed time to study and take both the TOEFL and SAT exams.
Of course, it didn’t go smoothly, I had breakdowns, and lost some matches that made me think that I can’t get there. Then I decided to simultaneously learn German to have a Plan B. I was feeling doubtful; in November 2016, I was taking TOEFL, SAT, and B1 (intermediate level in German language), and my school exams, along with my practices and traveling for tournaments.
This is a lot, and overwhelming, yet what helped those struggles pass is that I knew exactly what I needed to do and divided my time and effort by priorities. Yes, I was in doubt, but I was still working. I started getting offers from December 2016, and finally signed in April 2017 with the University of South Dakota (USD).
This wasn’t the end; it was the beginning of a new phase of my life with all its ups and downs.
However, I kept working and searching for the best career path that fit me, until I found what I liked and specialized in strategic communication. I managed to make the Dean’s list every semester since I stepped foot in South Dakota, in addition to my athletic wins and awards, such as an Academic All-Summit award for the 2019-2020 season.
I am currently a junior media and journalism student with a business minor and a Public Relations Officer Assistant Intern at the University of South Dakota.
In conclusion, get yourself the list you need to follow and work from it with dedication. Even if you lose hope or stop believing in yourself, keep moving. We tend to forget that baby steps still move us forward. Hopefully, my story could be a little reminder.
Habiba Aly is a full-time student-athlete (Women’s Tennis) and a Public Relations Officer Assistant Intern at the University of South Dakota.