Former FirstPoint USA client, Andrew Kuchmeister, headed out to the states back in 2007 on a soccer scholarship. Andrew has now completed his time both in education and as a student athlete, but is still living and working out in the US. We recently got in touch with Andrew to find out some more about his time as a student athlete and the opportunities this provided him with.
Andrew attended both Missouri Valley College and the University of Missouri; telling us he had an absolutely fantastic time at both institutions. Andrew stated, “I was given countless experiences that I will never forget, made friends and mentors who have become the most important people in my life and without question, would not be where I am without these opportunities.”
Andrew stated that the comradery that he was able to build with his teammates definitely stands out as his overall college highlight. “You spend so much time together in training, the classroom, and away on trips that you really fast-track your friendships. After a couple of months, it felt like I had known my teammates for years, and I still speak to many of them regularly.” With regard to a personal highlight, Andrew tells us this would be being named Soccer Captain in his senior year and going on to lead the team to its highest ever ranking and first national tournament appearance. Academically, Andrew tells us that his two graduations, and earning a scholarship to study a masters at a great institution like the University of Missouri is what he is proudest of.
Balancing academic and sporting commitments can be difficult, and although not the typical college experience, Andrew tells us he would not have changed it for the world.
“Remembering that you are a student athlete with student coming before athlete is essential for anyone considering an opportunity in the States. The school will most likely do everything they can to help by offering academic advisers, tutors, study halls but ultimately it comes down to the professionalism of the individual. It definitely took me some getting used to.”[caption id="attachment_11426" align="aligncenter" width="551"] University of Missouri[/caption]
Andrew tells us that his grades were not strong at the beginning as he had too many distractions from all of the new experiences that came with living in America. However, he quickly understood the measures needed in order to balance his time and achieve success. Telling us he remembers attempting to study for tests whilst on the bus returning from away games – which never went to plan. However, Andrew states that, typically you are provided with course expectations and deadlines at the beginning of the semester, as well as your playing schedule, so if you are organised the balance between sporting and academic commitments is definitely manageable.
After his graduation, Andrew decided to study for his masters and was offered a scholarship to do his MBA at the University of Missouri. Telling us the school offered an excellent program, but also provided the opportunity for Andrew to work as a teaching assistant to earn a stipend; making the offer extremely appealing. He tells us that many of his friends went on trials both in the states and their home countries which put them in a good position to continue in the game. However, Andrew made a decision which he thought was best at the time and it is not one that he regrets.
Whilst in the final semester of his masters at the University of Missouri, Andrew tells us he was approached to consider a career as a Financial Analyst at the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States. It is never ab easy decision to build a life away from your friends and family, but Andrew tells us that it was difficult to say no went the opportunity arose. When he left Scotland in 2007, Andrew never imagined being in a position like this, but now he has been working at the Federal Reserve for four years and is a Senior Financial Analyst in the bank supervision and risk management division. Additionally, Andrew tells us he has recently began investing in real estate and has his own company which he is hoping to grow.
“Opportunities are everywhere in this country and you never know what kind will come your way once you get started. All you can do is embrace them and run with them when they do come along.”
We asked Andrew if he feels obtaining his soccer scholarship has helped him to reach where he is today. He had this to say…
“My decision to accept the soccer scholarship was the most important of my life so far and I am extremely grateful for everything that it has offered me. I have now been in the United States for ten years - six as a student and four in the workplace and wouldn’t change it for the world. Aside from providing me with an affordable education, the people I have been around have been a huge influence and the experiences I have had have been remarkable. Being a student athlete sets you up well for life. It teaches you how to balance your priorities, develop socially and overall just become a more well-rounded individual.”
Finally, we asked Andrew if he had any advice for any prospective students thinking about heading to the US on a sports scholarship. Andrew advises to have a good think about what you are wishing to get from the experience.
“If you are just looking to prevent entering the workplace for a year while enjoying yourself then the bare minimum will suffice. However, if you want to be successful, earn a degree and get the most out of the experience then you will have to come in the right frame of mind and ready to work. You may not be a star straight away, I certainly wasn’t. The standard is far better than I had imagined and physically the athletes are in incredible shape. You will get on a program though develop quickly though so stick with it.”
Andrew also notes, it is worth really thinking about what you are looking for in a school. Originally, Andrew played soccer at a small school of around 1,700 students in a town of around 10,000 people which provided him with just enough distractions to keep busy. However, whilst studying for his masters, Andrew attended a school of around 32,000 students, which provided a completely different experience. However, Andrew tells us he doesn’t know if he would have been as successful if he had attended the University of Missouri straight away. Lastly, Andrew recommends to weigh up the pros and cons everywhere in order to “ensure you give yourself the best chance at living the dream you’re chasing.