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The story of Chiara Mottola is one to be taken as an example.

She opened up to us, told us in detail about her experiences at an academic level, her travels, her ability to adapt to today’s work. A long interview where the NEVER GIVE UP learned on the pitch is also reflected in life. From a leap into the void to a unique experience. Perseverance and determination are the principles on which Chiara has based her career as a student-athlete.

You came to the States to attend a Junior College, then you moved to another until you reached Carolina University where you completed your degree and obtained a Master’s degree. Tell us about your academic “journey”, the various steps you have taken and the qualifications you have obtained!

I started my experience at Marshalltown Community College, Iowa. It was a bit lost in the middle of nowhere, but the people I met were amazing and helped me so much during the first year away from home. I still have a great relationship with many of them and we see each other occasionally throughout the year. In that first year I improved my English drastically (I didn’t have Italians in my first college so I had to adapt and learn the language).

The courses of study were not too difficult, the first year are mainly all basic classes: mathematics, several courses in English and writing, public speaking. The second year I moved to New York, Monroe College with my best friend. We stayed there for the first semester, the second semester we finished online because of Covid. During that year I had many classes in accounting, finance, management, and marketing. At the end of these two years I received my Associate degree. The third year I moved to North Carolina, to Carolina University and as you said here I stayed until the end of my studies.

I completed my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration last May, graduated with a 4.0 GPA and recognition of Summa Laude. While completing my bachelor’s degree I started attending master’s level classes, and this allowed me to graduate in December 2022 with the MBA in Management again with a GPA of 4.0.

An intense path that was certainly challenging but that gave you great satisfaction: how do you think this experience has improved you?

I definitely learned to be independent, to fend for myself, and solve my own problems. I guess at this point I’ll be able to adapt to any kind of experience. The mentality has changed a lot, I have met people from all over the world, different languages, cultures, habits and each one has left me something important. I have learned to appreciate the values that my family has always passed on to me because when you travel you realize that not everyone has had the same privilege. In general, I have a better understanding of who I am and what I want to do in the future.

Today you received a job offer in the Human Resources department of Carolina University: what will be your task?

I started working in the school’s Business Office more than a year ago as a student-worker. I assisted the HR manager and took care of the employees’ salaries. During this year I have acquired more responsibilities and tasks to be carried out, always focused on payroll and human resources. Currently my title is Payroll Manager, but I mainly deal with all the HR part of the college.

Let’s talk about volleyball: what has been your impact from Italy to the States? What were the main difficulties you had to face?

Volleyball itself remains very similar to the Italian one, except for a few different rules that at first glance upset a bit, such as unlimited changes and the free serve. What changes a lot is the whole outline. By playing for college you are a role model for everyone, your behaviors are reflected in the team, the program, and the college itself. It’s important to follow the rules, and always be a role model around others. The difficulties I have often faced have been of a physical nature. In Italy I used to train three times a week, with one or two games in between. Here you train every day for two hours, the matches vary a lot, you could have 4 or 5 in the same week, sometimes more than one a day. The weights and physical preparation were quite hard initially. Athletic trainers care a lot about this part of physicality and “never give up”.

Many of them want you to get bigger and stronger muscularly and for this you have to put in a lot of effort during gym sessions. In addition, there is also a lot of physical preparation with running and sprints. There are many more “punishments”: if the team, or an individual member of the team does something wrong, often the whole group suffers the consequences, which are usually snaps at the end of training.

A totally different and challenging life. What is the routine of a student-athlete? What has been your typical day in recent years?

The routine is quite challenging. My last semester went like this. We had weights on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 to 9. Many of the classes for undergraduate students are in the morning and early afternoon, so most of my teammates would go to class soon after. I used my time in the morning to go to work.

We had training every day from one to three, and we had to be in the gym 30 minutes before to put up the net, and if you needed treatment from the physio you had to go even earlier. After training we would take a shower, have dinner at 5 o’clock (really early for our schedule, but at some point you get used to it) and my lessons would start at 6 pm, until 9 am. During the week, other sports had games, so we often went to watch football and basketball games. You have to learn to find time to study, be able to finish all your homework, and also find some time to go out with friends.

To conclude, how do you prepare yourself academically, athically and personally for such an adventure?

Personally, I took a leap of faith the first time I moved here. I had a decent foundation in English, but I absolutely improved it here with experience and day-to-day. You have to surround yourself with people who make you feel good and who help you, especially during the first year which is the hardest from a nostalgic point of view. My biggest piece of advice is probably not to think about it and prepare too much. Close your eyes and jump, or you might think twice! Good luck!