#IAmUCI Student-Athlete Testimonials

#IAmUCI Student-Athlete Testimonials

The #IAmUCI Story

As part of a campus-wide initiative, Anteater student-athletes join in on telling their personal story and what makes them a unique part of UC Irvine Athletics and the greater UC Irvine community.



Persis William-Mensah - Women's Track & Field

On my initial recruiting visit I was informed of the outstanding science programs that would be available to me as my goal is to enter either a medical or pharmaceutical school after graduation. All of my coaches and teammates greeted me with open arms and I just remember going back home and thinking that everyone was extremely welcoming. I couldn’t see myself anywhere else and ended up verbally committing to being an Anteater for the next 4 years! My favorite thing about UCI is the diverse amount of people I have had the chance to meet since being on campus. One of my best friends is in a sorority and the other works in a research lab on campus. I have met people that are from Italy, Ghana, China, and even just down the street. By being a student-athlete, I’ve been able to experience the best of both worlds in the sense that in the classroom I am held to the same standards as all of my peers and challenged to succeed just the same. On the track, I am able to forget about school for a while and focus on my athletic goals. I think UCI provides me the opportunity to excel as both a student and an athlete without ever compromising for one or the other and that has shaped me into the person that I am today as I can now call myself a 2016 Olympian, the owner of four school records, and a future college graduate. My main advice for any new Anteaters would be to explore the things you like to do andcapitalize on them, because college is all about finding yourself. Once you find the things youlike to do it’s really easy to build relationships that will last a lifetime around those connections. One piece of advice I would give to incoming student-athletes is that the four years go by really fast, so enjoy it while it lasts!

-Persis William-Mensah, 2016 Olympian - Ghana, 2016 Big West 4x100m Relay Champion


Lloyd Sicard - Men's Track & Field

“Life is all about seeing opportunity and taking it every time you get a chance, and this is one of the main reasons why I came to UCI. While it wasn’t my initial first choice for college, I soon realized that it was the right place with the most opportunities for me. Those opportunities weren’t immediately visible, but I knew if I positioned myself correctly, worked hard, and networked in this type of environment that they would present themselves among the challenges. Running track for UCI has been one of those challenges and it has been very rewarding.

Through competing in conference tournaments, NCAA regionals, NCAA finals, and the U.S. Olympic Trials, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many great people in athletics. More importantly, I feel that I’ve been able to help build the UC Irvine name nationally, something that I am very proud of. There’s a unique sense of responsibility that I’ve felt as I’ve accomplished more in competition, and while it can sometimes be challenging, I think it’s helped my teammates want to elevate their performances, which in turn helps me strive to achieve more for my team, those who are close to me, and this university.

After I graduate, my goal is to compete professionally in my sport, where your success can be amplified if you build your personal brand effectively. Utilizing the experiences I’ve been fortunate to collect through competing and in the classroom, I feel that I am ready to succeed in life after college, and I’m grateful for that. My hard work not only represents me but it represents UCI and what being a part of this university can do for anyone. To me, it shows that with hard work, determination, and a vision of success, that anything is possible.”

--Lloyd Sicard, 2016 Big West Conference Men’s Track Athlete of the Year, Senior, UC Irvine Track


Matthew Tilley - Men's Soccer

"I chose UCI for the excellent academics and also the success of the Men’s Soccer program. I knew that I wanted to be a part of that success. When I am not playing soccer, I am an avid surfer and having UCI so close to the beach is probably the thing I love about this university the most. I love that I can start and end my days at the beach. I can wake up, go surfing in the morning, then head to training and be with my teammates. After that I head to class and finish off my day, only to return to the beach for the sunset and sometimes another surf session.  What surprised me about UCI was how eco-friendly our campus is. It makes me proud to be a part of one of the leading schools in this field. Walking around campus is always a pleasure. When we travel to play soccer, I’m proud to wear the “UCI” on my chest knowing I represent such a unique place."

--Matthew Tilley, Senior, Men’s Soccer, 2015 All-Big West Honorable Mention


Emily Carlson - Women's Water Polo

"For over a year I have interned at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, where I rotate through many different departments of the hospital providing basic patient care and supporting the staff in various tasks they need done, including Oncology, Medical/Surgical, the Emergency Room, and Labor & Delivery. I have taken biology, chemistry, and many public health classes that have helped prepare me for this internship. My classes at UCI have helped provide me with knowledge that I am able to expand on through my interactions with hospital staff as well as with patients. Many have also provided me with information about effective communication, which is extremely important in this setting. As a former member of the Women’s Water Polo team, I feel that the best experiences that I’ve taken from being a student athlete are how to effectively manage my time and how to have a strong work ethic. Practicing for 4-5 hours every day on top of having to go to school and study definitely prepared me for what is required of me at my internship. The work is non-stop in the hospital environment, and coming from an environment where my days were already non-stop has been an incredible advantage. This internship has opened the door for me to many job opportunities. I am working around medical scribes and many different technologists daily, and one of those two positions is currently where my focus is upon graduating. In my time as a UC Irvine student-athlete, I’ve been given so many learning experiences that I’ve been able to put together with my working experience at Hoag, which has allowed me to pursue my passion after graduating in June."

--Emily Carlson, Class of 2016, UC Irvine Women’s Water Polo


Elliot Surrey - Baseball

"I am a fourth year film and media major here at UCI.  I chose this major because I enjoy making films for entertainment as well as for people to experience the vision I have for things.  Also, my father is in the film business and was an animator at Disney for a long time, so having that background made me interested in making my own projects and learning more about film.  In the future, if baseball doesn't work out long-term I hope to be making my own videos, specifically in advertising, ideally something along the lines of producing commercials for athletic brands.  What I find to be the most interesting about video production is the ability to take a series of images and create a story for an audience that will universally be understood. The editing of that footage really dictates the story, and to be able to have that free range of storytelling is amazing to me.  If I were not a student-athlete I would not know what to make videos about, because being a student-athlete has allowed me to give the student body, and anyone else interested in college athletics, a chance to see what exactly what the life of a Division I student-athlete is like and the level of work that goes in to succeeding on the field and in the classroom.  Being a student-athlete gave me my greatest UCI moment as well.  Going to the College World Series was unlike anything else, anytime you have 24,000 people cheering for you it’s a great experience."

--Elliot Surrey, Class of 2016, UC Irvine Baseball

Mokun Fajemisin - Women's Basketball

“As a student-athlete, I chose UCI for various reasons. I loved the education I would be receiving at UCI but I also loved the team I was going to become a part of. I love the atmosphere, and the campus is beautiful. I also love the Biological Sciences major and how it is immersed in current research.  During high school, I tore a tendon in my right knee, a setback I wasn’t prepared for. After pushing through rehab and putting in the work to get healthy, I was proud to get back on the floor and continue my career at UCI – only to get injured again my sophomore year. For the second time, I had to persevere through the rehabilitation process, which was something I gained a lot of respect for having gone through it multiple times. Seeing that people in that profession have the ability to help people get back to their normal lives caught my attention, and I decided that it was a career path I wanted to pursue. Being at UCI, I love the innovation of the medical field and how it is constantly evolving. I also love the fact I get to work with people every day and have the chance to improve someone's well-being. After passing the MCAT last fall, I’m excited to begin the process of applying to medical schools around the country and continue to do research. I’m proud and thankful that UC Irvine and the Athletic Department have given me the opportunity to pursue my goals.”

--Mokun Fajemisin, 2-time Big West All-Conference player, 4-time Big West Scholar-Athlete

Tamir Hershko - Men's Volleyball

“I chose UCI because of the volleyball program, the family sense that I got in my visits, and the high academics. Also, after I found out that we can live on the beach I was not going to give up on that. What surprised once I got on campus was the culture and the special connection between alumni and current students. This is the kind of family sense that my culture was built on. Also, UCI is very welcoming to international students. The international student office has helped me many times, plus there are some awesome engineering professors who have helped me a lot. This year I have been selected as the Lauds & Laurels Outstanding Student-Athlete, which is a great honor. I am proud of what I am and where I came from, and this honor is a great reminder of my hard work in both academics and athletics. My goal is that this achievement is inspiring to other international student-athletes and people in my home country of Israel.”

--Tamir Hershko, First Team All-American, 2016 Lauds & Laurels Outstanding Student-Athlete 


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