Chiara Mottola's story 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 up 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 arrived in 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. Tell us about your academic "journey", the various steps taken and the qualifications obtained!
I started my experience at Marshalltown Community College, Iowa. It was kind of lost in the middle of nowhere, but the people I met were amazing and helped me so much during my 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 Italian 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 English and writing courses, public speaking. The second year I moved to New York, Monroe College with my best friend. We stayed there for the first semester, we finished the second semester online due to the Covid. During that year I had many classes in accounting, finance, management and marketing. At the end of these two years I received the Associate degree. The third year I moved to North Carolina, to Carolina University and as you have already said here I stayed until the end of my studies.
I finished my BA in Business Administration last May, graduated with a 4.0 GPA and recognized by Summa Cum Laude. While completing my bachelor's I began taking master's level classes, which allowed me to graduate in December 2022 with the MBA in Management still with a 4.0 GPA.
An intense journey that was certainly challenging but that gave you great satisfaction: what do you think this experience has improved you?
I certainly learned to be independent, to manage on my own, and to solve my problems. I guess at this point I will be able to adapt to any kind of experience. The mentality has changed a lot, I've met people from all over the world, different languages, cultures, habits and everyone has left me something important. I 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 understood better who I am and what I want to do in the future.
Today you received a job offer in the Carolina University Human Resources department: what will your job be?
I started working in the business office of the school over a year ago as a student worker. I assisted the human resources manager and dealt with employee wages. During this year I have acquired more responsibilities and tasks 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 was your impact from Italy to the States? What are the main difficulties you had to face?
Volleyball itself remains very similar to the Italian one, except for a few different rules that are a bit upsetting at first glance, such as unlimited changes and free kicks. What changes a lot is the whole outline. Playing for the college, you are a role model for everyone to follow, your behaviors reflect on 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 was used to training three times a week, with one or two games in between. Here we 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 training were quite tough initially. Athletic trainers are very keen on this part of physicality and on the "never give up".
Many of them want to make you bigger and stronger muscularly and for this you have to work hard during your sessions in the gym. In addition, a lot of physical preparation is also done with running and sprinting. There are far more "punishments": if the team, or an individual team member does something wrong, often the whole group suffers the consequences, which are usually sprints at the end of the workout.
A totally different and demanding life. What is the routine of a student-athlete? What was your typical day like over the years?
The routine is quite demanding. My last semester went like this.We had weigh-ins on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 to 9. Many of the undergraduate classes are in the morning and early afternoon, so most of my teammates went to class right 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 early to set up the net, and if you needed treatment from the physio you had to go even earlier.After training we had a shower, dinner at 5 (really early for our schedule, but you get used to it at some point) and my lessons started at 6 in the afternoon, until 9. During the week then other sports they had matches, so we often went to watch the racesof football and basketball. You have to learn how 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 from an academic, sporting and personal point of view 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've absolutely improved it here with experience and everyday life. 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 advice is probably don't think about it and over prepare. Close your eyes and jump, otherwise you might think twice!Good luck!