Student Profile - Diana Mendez
Business, tennis bring Diana Mendez to Lamar
Diana Mendez started her collegiate career at a northern university in Iowa playing primarily indoor tennis. A native of Bogota, Colombia, where it's always warm, she was longing for warmer weather and felt she was a better outdoor tennis player. The Lamar tennis program along with the facilities and the College of Business impressed her enough to get her heading south.
"I talked to the coach by phone and all the things he told me about the program and the university really caught my attention," said Mendez. "I liked the fact the College of Business is accredited, and I also liked that the Princeton Review included Lamar's College of Business as one of the premiere places to study business."
Universities in Colombia are very expensive, and none of the schools offer athletic scholarships, so not everyone gets the opportunity to attend college, according to Mendez. The universities offer team sports, but participating in sports is more of a hobby than collegiate competition. Very few schools allow students to participate in sports and study at the same time. Some schools have tennis teams, but the competition is not as intense, and they don't play as many matches.
When asked about the cultural adaptations that go along with integrating into a new society, Mendez replied, "For me, the language was the first thing I had to get used to. My native language is Spanish, and getting used to a new language is not easy. Also, I had to get used to the food. Americans eat too much fried and junk food. Back home we aren't accustomed to that."
For Mendez, her coaches and teammates became her extended family and primary support net. According the Colombia native, teammates become your friends, people with whom you spend most of your time and who help out when things are difficult or confusing. Coaches become like parents and are always there to take care of you if you get sick or injured.
Mendez notes that one big cultural difference is that the people she has met are so independent in America. In Colombia, families and friends spend a good amount of time together and depend upon each other more. Her favorite thing about being in the United States and at Lamar University is that she is able to get a college degree while doing the thing she loves most - playing tennis. She notes, however, that another one of her favorite things is the shopping - everything is much cheaper than back at home.
The senior business management major has been recognized for outstanding academic and athletic performance, was named to the Dean's List for 2010, was recognized for outstanding academic performance for 2011 and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. After graduation, Mendez would like to apply to work in the U.S. and pursue a master's degree before returning to Colombia.