Special to the Journal
At 22, Brazil native Carolina Ribeiro has had a lifetime of adventure.
While most 18-year-old high school graduates were considering whether to attend a local college or one in a neighboring state, she was deciding on which college to attend in a foreign country, with a different language, more than 4,000 miles from her home.
Ribeiro came to the United States four years ago from the Portuguese-speaking country in South America knowing very little English. This year she will graduate from Albany State University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. When she arrived in the U.S., she briefly attended college in Connecticut. After that, she made another brief stop in Utah before settling in at ASU.
“Initially the language barrier was the greatest obstacle I faced in college,” she said. “I had to study hard not only to learn the English language, but I also to pass my classes. I was also on the volleyball team, which kept me plenty busy every day with practices and an average of two games per week. It was very difficult going through all of that by myself without my family and friends from Brazil.”
Still, she made it. Ribeiro, the recipient of a four-year athletic scholarship, didn’t just play volleyball. She also played tennis and excelled at both, earning more than 15 awards for her athletic and academic achievements during her four years of eligibility.
As a student, she didn’t just pass; she mastered her classes, earning a 3.3 grade point average on all of her course work.
“Ribeiro is a total package,” said Stephanie Harrison-Dyer, assistant director of athletics at ASU. “She is an all-around student athlete.”
Edythe Bradley, ASU’s director of sports information, agrees.
“Carolina is an outstanding student who excels in athletics,” she said. “In addition, she does community service work and is a model citizen-athlete.”
Carolina is the daughter of Antonio Ribeiro Pais and Renata Ferreira Paratela Ribeiro of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. She is a 2005 graduate of Colegio Promove Savassi High School. She’s a member of a very close-knit family of four. She has one brother, Luiz Ricardo Paratela Ribeiro, 24, and her parents continue to live in her hometown.
Ribeiro participates in an international student program where she has an American host family. Her host family, the Morts, reside in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, where Ribeiro lived with them for one semester.
“I consider my host family as part of my real family,” she said. “They were and still are wonderful to me. I am where I am because they supported and helped me. On my graduation day, I want to honor both my Brazilian and my American families. I would not have accomplished it without them. I love both of my families with all of my heart.”
Members of her host family are Clifford, father; Rebecca, mother; and siblings Katlyn, 20; Kelsea, 18; Kalla, 15; Bryson, 13; and Grandma Diane.
Ribeiro credits several ASU faculty members with helping her learn and achieve academic success. She lists Dr. Juan Jaramillo, assistant professor of business administration; Dr. Cynthia Bennett, professor of business information systems; Dr. Don Snyder, director and professor of accounting; Dr. Michael Rogers, chair and professor of business administration; and Maurice Elliard, assistant professor of marketing.
Rogers said, “Ribeiro is a bright, hard-working and cooperative student who is very popular with her classmates.”
Ribeiro looks forward to working for a company in a sports-related industry after completing her education. Specifically, she is interested in advertising companies, firms that sponsor professional teams, and organizations involved with imports and exports.
“I am not sure if I will stay and work in the United States after I graduate,” she said. “However, if I have good opportunities here and if it is what God has for me, I will stay in the U.S.”
Ribeiro’s professors are confident that her adventurous nature will serve her well in the future.
“She is a delightful person to be around,” Rogers said. “I imagine she will have that effect on people anywhere. She will be an asset wherever she works.”
Her plans are to enroll in graduate school next August and to get an internship in marketing.
“Once I graduate, I want to work for a global company that does business with Brazil and other countries,” she said. “I want to work for a company where I will be able to use my foreign language skills and learn a fourth language.”