(JACKSON, Miss.) — Marina Brito has been awarded a full scholarship and will be pursuing an MBA in the fall at JSU.
“I am grateful to have an opportunity to pursue my graduate degree and continue to play volleyball,” she said.
At 18, she left her country (Brazil) to study economics and play volleyball at Jackson State.
“Coming to the United States was a lot to take in,” Brito said. “Everything about my new environment was different from being home — the language, culture, my teammates and the level of competition.”
When she arrived as a freshman the JSU volleyball team finished in eighth place out of 10 teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). After three years of hard work, the team won the 2021 SWAC tournament, but the trek to triumph was far from easy.
“I’ve endured being in a worldwide pandemic thousands of miles from home and a snow storm that ultimately resulted in a huge water crisis, and I feel like I still came out on top,” she said. “Staying focused really helped me excel though it all.”
When COVID-19 hit international students like Brito were left in a state of fear. She remembers feeling stuck while her peers were returning home to be with their families.
“I was afraid,” she explained. “I didn’t know how or if I would be able to get back to Brazil because the borders were closing. I was also afraid that if I was able to return to Brazil, I would not be allowed back in the United States. It was a terrifying feeling.”
Fortunately, administrators and staff at JSU made sure that she had the proper documents to leave and return to the U.S. Brito traveled home to Brazil in August 2020 and returned to JSU in January 2021.
With information changing daily, she often reminded herself that this situation was temporary and she should adjust as needed. One of those adjustments included virtual learning in a different time zone.
Another adjustment was preparing for her senior season of volleyball while being extremely safe due to the fact that she lived with her grandmother.
“I found ways to work out without going to the gym,” she said. “I had to be creative and do a lot of things outside.”
The pandemic is far from over, but she is positive that since the release of vaccine, life as she knew it is near.
Brito said she believes her faith helped her excel academically and athletically. She credits her family and friends for helping her through such trying times.
She leans on the scripture in Ephesians 3:20 to assist her with the worries of the world. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”