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Off to a Good Start

Sam Houston bowler graduates with academic, athletic recognition

Janine Kuwahara graduated from Sam Houston State with two majors, accounting and economics, and a 4.0 GPA. Submitted by Janine Kuwahara

Janine Kuwahara came to the U.S. not knowing what to expect from life as a college athlete.

Four years later, the native of the Philippines wonders how different her life would have been if she had not attended Sam Houston State.

Kuwahara, featured on the Spring 2015 cover of Champion, graduated in May with a 4.0 GPA and two majors, accounting and economics. On the lanes, she helped the Bearkats win the 2014 NCAA bowling title as a freshman and was twice named her sport’s recipient of the Elite 90 honor, awarded to the student with the highest grade-point average among competitors who reach the final site at every NCAA championship.

Kuwahara is headed to Houston and a job with Deloitte in auditing services.

“Graduation week was very emotional for me,” says Kuwahara, whose father, Akihiro, traveled 8,600 miles for the ceremony. “It all just started to sink in for me. I learned so many things over my four years at Sam Houston State.”

Among the things she learned, she says, are time management and overall discipline — two traits that she believes will help in her professional life. During an internship at Deloitte, those two attributes shined through and eventually led to a full-time job offer.

“We’re all really busy as students, and the athletes on campus have to be able to keep up with classes while traveling for competition,” Kuwahara says. “It made me grow as a person. That helped me prepare for the real world. When I did my internship, my experience as a student-athlete helped prepare me to handle stressful situations. I’m thankful for that.”

Two years ago, Kuwahara’s plans included wanting to remain in the U.S. after graduation. Now, she wants to figure out a way to help her three younger sisters attend college in America.

But in the short term, she is focused on the opening stages of her professional life and is now taking classes at a local junior college to help prepare for the certified public accountant exam at the end of the year.

Kuwahara came to campus not sure what to expect. She leaves with confidence and lifelong friendships.

“Some of my teammates were my best friends,” Kuwahara says. “We spent so much time together, and now we aren’t sure when we will see each other again. But you look forward to seeing them again, and that is the cool part. I am so glad I made the decision to come to Sam Houston. I feel I am on a good track.”

About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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