Shantala Uzcategui

photo of Shantala Uzcategui
Class of 2025
Major: Exercise Science

Shantala Uzcategui is an Exercise Science major who came to Walsh University to play tennis, a sport she has played since she was six years old. When it was time to choose a college, she knew she wanted to combine tennis and academics, something that was not a possibility for her in Venezuela. She liked the idea of being part of a team that represented international players from all over the world, and she found a perfect match at Walsh.

“Coming to Walsh has changed me,” she said. “I found a way to feel this place is home by getting involved on campus as much as I can. Now, I can say that I have made real friends from all over the globe.”

Grateful for the international ambassadors who helped her get acclimated as a freshman to campus life in a new country, Uzcategui has taken on that role, as well as President of the World Student Organization, putting her heart and soul into creating engaging events and activities that celebrate the unique aspects of the international students’ individual cultures.

“It’s a good opportunity,” she said. “If you are part of something and involved on campus, it’s a good way to get to know a lot of people.”

While international students are not always fluent in English, Walsh is committed to helping them excel both in and out of the classroom by providing tutors, mentors and professors who go out of their way to be supportive. One of their very first experiences though, is adapting to a new culture.

“In my country, when you’re meeting someone, you give them a kiss or a hug.  Here, you just say hi or shake hands,” she said. “It doesn’t mean that you are not their friend, it’s just that the culture is like that.”

After her freshman year, she accepted an internship off campus that allowed her to play and teach tennis almost daily while gaining valuable skills and a new perspective.

“My summer internship as a tennis instructor at a country club was invaluable,” she said. “I grew personally and professionally as I learned to navigate relationships, accept responsibility, manage my time, problem-solve, communicate and show up with a willingness to learn. Living on my own off campus, as an international student, also challenged me to grow outside my comfort zone and build my confidence.”

After graduating from Walsh, Uzcategui plans to pursue a career as a personal trainer and fitness coach, helping tennis players reach their potential through improved physical performance, injury reduction and ongoing education. She is also interested in becoming certified in sports nutrition.

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