CBO - Winter 2018

Student Spotlight: Sarah St. Fort

Photos courtesy of Sarah St. Fort

I was fortunate to be able to attend The University of Toledo on an athletic scholarship. I was born and raised in Montreal, and I’m the third-oldest of nine kids — so my dream of going to school in the United States would not have been possible without basketball.

When I was considering where to attend college, there were many other schools that were trying to recruit me — but I chose The University of Toledo because I liked the variety of options at UT, both in terms of academic programs and campus life. And, Toledo is very close to Canada — just a little over 100 KM by car — so that was a plus, too.

I was also fortunate in that I am from Quebec, where the educational system is quite different from anywhere else in North America, and very rigorous. I came to The University of Toledo after completing all the public education available in Quebec, including Quebec’s CEGEP pre-university program.

Thanks to CEGEP, I received a solid foundation in English — so when I arrived at UToledo, not only was I able to skip the ESL courses — I didn’t even have to take the English placement tests! And, because so many of my CEGEP credits transferred for credit to UToledo, I was able to complete a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance in only two and a half years.

With my four-year athletic scholarship, I was able to continue my education and earn a master’s degree at UToledo, too. I’m now in my fourth year playing varsity basketball for the Toledo Rockets, and will complete my MBA program in business administration and finance next year.

This opportunity has meant a great deal to me, because my purpose in life is to help people. I come from a low-income background and one in which many people don’t know how to use money. It is my goal to help people from backgrounds like mine learn how to manage their personal finances successfully.

When I started my college life at UToledo, I was very focused on only two things: school work and basketball. But, as I got used to the demanding schedule that student-athletes have, I saw that I had opportunities to enjoy myself and participate in other campus activities, too.

One UToledo program that has meant a great deal to me is the Klar Leadership Academy. It’s based in UToledo’s College of Business and Innovation — but they recruit students from every major and discipline. In Klar Academy, we learn HOW to be a leader and how to develop the traits of an effective leader. To be selfless, open-minded, emotionally intelligent, helpful, willing to take criticism and communicate well are all areas we focus on in the academy.

As Klar Academy members, we also took tests to identify what kind of leader we were and where we needed to improve. Early on in my college career, I was thinking more about myself. As I’ve gone through school, I’ve learned to be more selfless — more about the team and what is good for the team. I’ve also learned to be a better communicator. I used to be VERY direct — but now, I’ve learned other ways of approaching people and solving problems.

Another benefit I enjoyed in UToledo’s Klar Academy was being exposed to different types of people in other disciplines. For my first years on campus, I lived with other basketball players, and as I mentioned, I had a somewhat narrow focus. In the academy, I was able to broaden my world and meet many new people. You get to know them and … who knows? You might end up business partners some day!

One of the things that’s special to me about The University of Toledo is that it is TRULY multi-cultural. I’ve met people from many different countries at UToledo — even our basketball team reflects the international mix on campus. This year, we have players from Sweden, Italy, Finland, Switzerland and me — from Canada!

UToledo also has outstanding support services for international students. Because they have students from so many different countries here, the staff have been through it all before and they know the ropes. They really WANT to help and they want you to feel comfortable and confident.

One time, I was traveling to Spain with the basketball team and forgot to take my visa when we left. Without it, I couldn’t go back to the U.S., so I was in a jam! My coach had to call the Center for International Studies and Programs and ask for help. Their team contacted the correct officials and worked with them to get me back into the United States. They really know what they’re doing — so you can say, “I’ve got this!”

Another thing I love about The University of Toledo is its size. It’s the PERFECT size! It’s small enough that you can easily get to know people — but big enough for there to be all kinds of people to meet and all kinds of opportunities to explore. The classes are just the right size, too — I felt like I could speak up in class and ask questions because they were not so crowded. And, the campus is just beautiful. Some days, I will go out on Centennial Mall and just sit, look at the fountain and enjoy what a beautiful place it is.

My advice to anyone who is considering The University of Toledo is ENJOY the opportunities that college life affords you here. AND, have FUN! Besides the many activities to choose from on UToledo’s campus, there are also many fun things to do in the city and surrounding areas. If you are organized, you can be a successful student and still enjoy life. Be open minded and you can make many friends!

To learn more about The University of Toledo, visit utoledo.edu or connect with the Office of International Admission directly at utoledo.edu/admission/international and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @UTintladmission.