Magaly Tshipopo is a talented track and field athlete but her hopes and dreams rise above sports.
“Track helps me pay for my education and I really take it seriously,” Tshipopo said, alluding to her track scholarship. “I want to go home with my degree, as it is important to my parents. It is also important to me and to my future so I can have a good job. I can fall back on my studies and educational background. I want to make my parents proud while increasing my chances of having a successful career.”
Running track already has brought Tshipopo to Raleigh, 4,035 miles from her hometown of Orléans, a small city in France about an hour away from Paris.
The junior media and communications major competes in several events including hurdles, sprints and the high jump. She first went to Central Arizona College for two years but that college did not meet her needs and she ended up at Saint Augustine’s because of its reputation as for having good track and field teams.
“I could not go to a Division 1 college for track and field,” she explained. “My coach [at Central Arizona College] spoke to coach George Williams here at SAU and from there I decided to come for track.”
Tshipopo has not yet been able to compete at SAU due to NCAA rules so she has not yet had the chance to show her speed here. But she was a standout in Arizona so her prospects are excellent on the track at Saint Augustine’
Meanwhile, she is taking full advantage of the other aspects of her education. Tshipopo is into her academics as much as she is into track and field.
Prior to coming here, she thought she wanted to study business, however once she came to SAU she discovered that her passion lay elsewhere.
“I figured out that communications was more to my interest, you know?” she recalled. “I like to do broadcasting and advertising.” She said she really enjoyed the Voice and On Camera Presentation class that she took this past spring semester with Ms. Janet Gustafson.
“That class with Ms. G was one of my favorite classes,” Tshipopo said. “We practiced reading the teleprompter, which is how news anchors read the news. We also worked with cameras and did other behind-the-scenes tech stuff.”
Her favorite class currently is Introduction to Photography and Videography. “I have that class this semester with Dr. Shawn Lewis and it is fun. I like to take videos and pictures. Being that I do that already on my own I have begun to edit them,” she said.
Tshipopo has many notable accomplishments as a track athlete. She is a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Indoor National Champion. Along with indoor track Tshipopo also participates in outdoor track as well.
“I started running at the age of 14,” she said. “I was not really a sports person but I love track. When I first started out I was just doing high-jump. I competed in the heptathlon and the indoor pentathlon. Now I love it – everything from the hurdles to the long jumps.”
Tshipopo is a very determined person on and off the track. “You know, last semester I was ineligible to compete. I want to prove that I deserve to run as much as any other international student,” she said.
For Tshipopo, the SAU community has made her feel at home. Being in the U.S differs significantly from her life in France. The differences started with how Americans think about college, she said.
“You know back home, the ‘college life’ is not much of a big deal,” she said. “Here in the states, there is more school spirit. People are also more social and open to starting a conversation.”
Tshipopo intends to remain in the U.S. after she graduates.
“I want to live in California or Washington, D.C.,” she explained. “I have some family in those locations. My aunt who is a musician lives in California and my uncle stays in Washington, D.C.”
Tshipopo already has specific plans for plans for the future. “I hope to be a social media director specializing in the fashion industry arena,” she said. “I am interested in modeling. My family has a history in fashion and modeling. I am a new member of SAU’s modeling troupe this year.”
She also has a YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/mtshipopo) and a blog (lauranneashley.wordpress.com) that allow her to show off her creativity and to express herself.
Tshipopo has high expectations for next semester. “I hope that next semester when track season starts I will be competing,” she said. “Last year, when I came here I lost out on both indoor and outdoor season. Missing out had me kind of upset about it. I was ready to compete but I couldn’t since I was ineligible.”
Questions about her amateur status back in France also have delayed her eligibility.
“Right now, my goal is if I get eligible is to give my best as it has been a long time since I competed,” Tshipopo continued. “I want to prove that I deserve to be here and that I earned my scholarship. I want to be eligible to at least compete for a year. I want to be the best at track while staying motivated with my classes and studies.”
— Jazmin Powell