Each month we profile a FirstPoint USA Staff Member to give you some insight into what we are all like, what we do and what experience we have.
The majority of our staff have all been through the American scholarship process themselves and have studied and played sport to a high level in the States.
James Beggs, from our Clearing Department is certainly no exception! James secured a soccer scholarship to University of Mobile, Alabama, in 2004, joining the FirstPoint USA clearing department earlier this year.
We caught up with James to find out more about his experiences:
1. Can you tell us a bit about your sporting background (how you got into the scholarship, the college you chose, what you’ve done since etc)
My sporting background is Football(soccer). After playing in the Scottish First and second division for Clydebank F.C I spent the next 3 years in the Scottish Junior Football League playing for St. Anthony’s JFC. It was here where I met FirstPoint MD Andrew Kean and Joined the First Point program in 2002. After working with FirstPoint for a little over a year I chose to go to go out to a Junior College called Wallace State Community College in 2003 which is located in North Alabama. I spent 1 year at Wallace State and transferred out to NAIA 2002 National Champions, University of Mobile where I became incoming sophomore starting goalkeeper and helped lead the team back to the National Championships in 2004. In 2007 I graduated from Mobile with a B.S degree with distinction in Sports Management and Exercise Science. After graduating, I continued with my education earning my Maters degree in Communications in 2010 at Mississippi College while coaching the Women’s soccer team. After graduating from Mississippi College I moved to Memphis Tennessee where I coached soccer and worked for one of the U.S largest payroll companies in the U.S called Paychex before returning to the UK in December 2011. Since returning to the UK I have lived and worked in Bristol as a Project Executive for GDS who organize international Summits and Conferences before joining First Point in April 2013 where I have joined the Clearing Department Team.
2. What were your impressions of the quality of U.S facilities, coaching etc? How do they compare to those in the UK?
The U.S college facilities are second to none. The Soccer fields I played on for Mobile were the nicest I have ever played on in my career. As well as this, the first College American Football game I went to was at the University of Mississippi (Ole’ Miss) where I saw how big the college game was. Over 100,000 fans inside and outside of the stadium. Also, the indoor soccer field on campus was state of the art and the other sporting facilities on campus rivaled any professional facilities in the UK and in Europe.
3. What was the highlight of your time in the USA?
The highlight of my time in the U.S was both of my graduations. There is only 1 other person in my family who has a degree and I was the first to earn a Masters. It was something I never dreamed of doing before going out to the U.S
4. What did you achieve academically and athletically whilst in the U.S?
My Athletic achievements in the U.S include being part of the University of Mobile team that reached the National Championships in Kansas in 2004. Also, I was part of the coaching staff that helped the Mississippi College women’s Soccer team reach their conference tournament in 2007. In 2010 I also kicked a 65 yard field goal to win the State Championship for the local high school team posing an 18 year old graduating senior.
5. How did you balance and manage your time between your studies, training and social life?
During the Fall, There was not much time for social activities as I was primarily focused on soccer and studying. The season is very demanding with all the training, games and traveling to tournaments, so any spare time I had, I spent in the library studying for exams. You have to be very disciplined to make it through the fall and come out with the medals and grades.
6. What advice would you have for any young athlete considering a sports scholarship to the USA?
My advice to anyone considering perusing a U.S scholarship would be to be prepared to work hard, not only on sport but in the classroom as well. Your primary focus should be going to the U.S to attain a degree that will benefit you after you are finished playing your sport.
7. What made you want to work for FirstPoint USA? What is your role at the company? What is your favorite part of the job so far?
I wanted to work for First Point USA as I have been part of the program and have seen how the experience has changed my life and I wanted to help young athletes live their dreams and help them towards a life which will open the doors to endless opportunities. My role involves finding colleges and Universities which suit the athletes specific ambitions and needs so I spend a lot of my day communicating with U.S Universities which I find very rewarding as the daily interaction with Americans is something I miss very much.
8. Do you think you made the right choice by studying in the USA?
There is no doubt that I made the right choice is studying in America. Through the experience I have made thousands of friends, seen more of the world that I could have ever dreamed of and since I have returned home to the U.K, I have found myself in a very good position professionally through the knowledge and experience I gained in my time in the U.S.
9. What do you think are the benefits of having a USA Scholarship experience compared to a UK education?
The benefits of U.S education over a U.K education is that it shows employers that you are open to new experiences and willing to work hard and work independently. You will also find that your network of professional and personal colleagues will expand far beyond what you would have by staying in the U.K.
Do you think you have what it takes to secure a scholarship to study in the USA while playing your favourite sport? Apply now for your assessment!