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My priority was to be successful in my studies when I came to Park. With all the accomplishments on the volleyball court, I’m most proud of my studies and overall success, both as a student and as an athlete.” — Wanessa Siqueira Wanessa Siqueira’s legacy at Park University is one for the record books. Literally. As a volleyball superstar, Siqueira,’14, hauled in awards and top honors for her fierce play on the court and capped off her career as the captain of Park’s NAIA women’s national volleyball championship team — the first in Park’s history — during the team’s 2014 undefeated 40-0 season. Off the court, she graduated with a 3.9 grade point average with a double major in business administration/finance and business administration/management, and is continuing her studies at Park as a graduate student in the Master of Business Administration program. She recently landed a coveted internship through Park at Pro Athlete Inc. in Kansas City, Mo., an opportunity that blends her athleticism and business savvy. And along the way she got engaged to marry her high school sweetheart and fellow Park graduate Matheus Roham, '13, M.B.A. '16. Wanessa Siqueira's family traveled from Brazil to attend her graduation. From left to right: Edna Lopes da Silva (grandmother), Wagner Silva (uncle), Leir Siqueira, (father) Luísa Lopes Siqueira (sister), Wanessa Siqueira, Brenda Lopes Siqueira (sister), Gláucia Lopes Siqueira (mother) and Matheus Roham (fiancé).


But Siqueira’s story is about more than accolades, accomplishments and good fortune in love. It’s about character, drive, commitment — and leading by example. Anyone who’s followed Siqueira’s studentathlete career at Park is familiar with her litany of achievements. She attended Park on a full athletic scholarship. Twice she earned All-American honors and was named the 2014-15 Capital One Academic All-American of the Year in volleyball during the national championship season. She’s also a four-time academic all-conference honoree and two-time DaktronicsNAIA Scholar-Athlete. Perhaps her greatest honor — demonstrating her breadth of ability, intelligence and leadership —was earning the NAIA’s Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character Award for the 2014-15 academic year. The

award annually recognizes a junior or senior student-athlete for outstanding academic achievement, campus and community leadership, athletic achievement and future ambition. (See related story on page 23.) But high achievement has come with its share of challenges. Siqueira is from Rio de Janeiro, where her first language is Portuguese. She admits that college life in the United States took some getting used to as she was 12 hours away by plane from home, family and everything she had ever known. “When we arrive as international students, we’re greeted by a different culture, different language and different customs. You adjust and embrace it over time, but at first it’s overwhelming,” she said. “You just want to fit in and be the same as everyone else. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what color you are. Still, some people see foreign students through a different lens.” But she was grateful to find a warm and friendly welcome at Park. “At Park, I didn’t feel defined or treated as a ‘foreigner’ or ‘different.’ Many Park students are from different places. Everyone was interested in getting to know who I was, not just where I was from,” she said. While an undergraduate student at Park, Siqueira helped bridge language gaps between students speaking primarily Portuguese, teaching English and helping others achieve academic success on the University’s flagship Parkville Campus.

focused on playing our best.” “It was an important learning experience for me. I knew it was important for me to lead by example. I had to stay calm, use diplomacy, resolve differences and keep my perspective at all times,” she said. Siqueira’s calm and even-handed leadership paid off. “Sometimes, we faced heckling from other teams about our diversity, which was unsettling. Because everyone is so welcoming at Park, it was unusual for the team to experience these kind of negative comments,” Siqueira said. “People would actually yell things during the games like, ‘Go home; you’re not from here’ or they’d try to rattle us some other way for not being born in the U.S.” On those occasions, Siqueira would gather her teammates, defuse any anger and lift their spirits with a simple reminder: “We’re here to play volleyball, be a team, represent Park proudly — and win. We show who we are by the way we play and by the way we live.” As she leaves behind a legacy of leadership in the classroom and on the court, Siqueira is focused on completing her MBA to pursue a career in finance. Recounting her Park experience, she explained, “My priority was to be successful in my studies when I came to Park. With all the accomplishments on the volleyball court, I’m most proud of my studies and overall success, both as a student and as an athlete.”

When asked how she would like to use her leadership, drive and diplomacy in the Being an international student proved business world, Siqueira said she plans to valuable during her college career, especialcontinue leading a life that sets a good ly as captain of the volleyball team. “We had example for her family, friends and anyone student-athletes who attended Park from who crosses her path. “I don’t think about around the globe. We had Americans, of striving to become a chief executive officer course, and we also had student-athletes from or something like that. My future isn’t about Egypt, Venezuela and several other counlabels and accolades,” she said. “I just want tries,” she said. “On any team, conflicts arise, to do the best I can, always striving toward especially with talented people with strong success in whatever the future holds for me.” personalities and different backgrounds. I knew as captain I needed to keep the team

Spring 2016 - 3

Park University Magazine - Spring 2016  

With 140 years of outstanding history and more than 71,000 living alumni, Park University has many great stories to tell. As part of the Uni...