Women’s Soccer Vanessa Alonzo Earns 2019 Student-Athlete Achievement Award
Written by: Sierra College
Sophomore Forward Vanessa Alonzo (Women’s Soccer) was named 2019 Student-Athlete Achievement Award winner by the California Community College Counselors/Advisors Academic Association for Athletics (3C4A). The annual award is given to one male and one female student-athlete and is intended to honor student-athletes who have overcome great personal, academic and/or emotional odds to achieve success while participating in intercollegiate athletics.
Vanessa has demonstrated her determination and work ethic from a young age. While many kids focus solely on school and sports while growing up, Vanessa found herself as the primary caretaker of her younger siblings. Vanessa was often responsible for making sure her siblings woke up on time and would drive them to and from school, before going to class herself.
As a first-generation student, Vanessa was not able to lean on her parents or other family members for support in navigating the transition from high school to college. She found herself struggling during her first semester, but was encouraged by Women’s Soccer coach, Jason Gantt, to utilize the resources available to her, including collaboration with her academic counselor and other support services on campus to create an educational plan for success.
Deciding to red shirt for the 2017-18 season, Vanessa was determined to turn her academics around, and went from a first semester GPA of 1.62 to a second year GPA of 3.72. Continuing that success in her third year at Sierra, Vanessa competed as a team captain during the 2018 women’s soccer season and contributed to the team’s 2018 Big 8 conference title (even scoring the winning goal in the deciding match). While competing on the field, Vanessa continued to persevere in the classroom, earning a 4.0 GPA and being awarded Big 8 All-Academic and Academic All-State Team honors.
Vanessa’s coach describes her as a “selfless teammate with an outlook on overcoming adversity that is second to none,” and her teammates attest to her ability to lead by example while never making excuses despite the potential barriers she constantly faced off the field. Despite the struggles and hardship, Vanessa remains ready for her next challenge. She never wavered, because in her mind there would be no excuse for not becoming the first in her family to earn a college degree. She has been a lifelong leader on the field, in the classroom, and within her family, and there is no question that her two siblings are extremely lucky to have had such a great role model to look up to all of these years.
For more information on the California Community College Counselors/Advisors Academic Association for Athletics, visit 3c4a.org