"I started playing basketball at 16. When someone told me it was possible to get an education, in the United States of America, through basketball, I knew right away it was what I was destined to do. I heard it all, “that’s crazy”, “the U.S.? No way!!!”, “it’s impossible”, “go to Portugal instead and play basketball as a hobby”, “you should apply for a scholarship from the government just in case it doesn’t work”, but I didn’t listen... I just knew I’d do it!

So I got to work! Started practicing 2-3 times a day, reading books and practicing English, barely hung out with friends... my basketball teammates and coach became part of my family... I took a whole year off after graduating high school at 17, and that’s all I did! I came to the U.S. for try-outs and was hoping I would end up in some school around Boston, close to my community. Instead, I ended up in New Hampshire, where there were literally no one from Cape Verde that I knew of...

I arrived with one suitcase the day before classes started, I didn’t even own a pillow. There was a huge snowstorm the next day, and I didn’t have one piece of winter clothing. I remember wearing as many shirts as I could fit under my sweatshirt and leggings under my jeans. The snow was up to my knees when I left for classes. I cried on the way there, because I didn’t even know where to go... I was lost! Literally and figuratively...

I didn’t have my family members at every game like my teammates did. I couldn’t call my mom every time something was bothering me because it costed an arm and a leg, and money was always tight. For you guys to have an idea, she made less than $500/month at the time... I missed out on holidays, birthdays, births, weddings, funerals... it hurt! I felt lonely, depressed, and it sucked that I couldn’t communicate with others like I’d want to... but I never thought about quitting! I believed I was doing something meaningful by paving the way for many who had the same dream!

Many years later, I look back and I smile big! I have a life that I love, surrounded by good people! I got an education and a job that I absolutely love! I can be there for my family, not only financially, but also emotionally because of all the experiences I went through. It’s a great feeling, and I thank everyone who made this journey a tad easier