Spotlight :: ECE :: UD :: CamiloSpotlight


Colombian player adjusts to life in the U.S.

If going to college out of state is a bold move, try going to a different country.

Sophomore Camilo Perez came to Delaware from Bucaramanga, Colombia. He said being a member of Delaware's tennis team has helped him transition into American life smoothly.

"I understand it is completely different here, but I think I've adapted pretty well," Perez said. "The tennis team is pretty much like a frat. They were my first support here."

Perez played for the Colombian National tennis team, which consists of the top 10 players in the country. With the team, he traveled to places like Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador and Uruguay, but said he knew he always wanted to come to the United States for college.

"America is the only place where you can grow in your sport and get a degree," Perez said. "In Colombia, you must pick athletics or academics, you can't do both."

He said America has more funding for his educational interest - electrical engineering. Perez chose Delaware because he wanted a successful engineering school which also had a tennis program. Family members living in Maryland referred him to Delaware's head coach Laura Travis.

"We recruited Camilo to come to Delaware," Travis said. "There was an engineering and tennis connection. Camilo's background has added a new perspective for the players. His life and culture in Colombia is very different.

"We are all learning about this and hopefully gaining an understanding of how lucky we are in this country to have so many different opportunities to learn and develop."

Sophomore Sam Barrer said Perez is a significant contributor to the team on and off the court. Barrer said the constantly laughing Perez is a riot to spend time with and he livens up long bus rides with hilarious stories and impressions of teammates.

Perez said his interest in tennis began in Colombia at the age of seven. He started playing soccer, but there were tennis courts nearby, so he tried it on a whim. Seven years later, he was one of the top players in the country.

"What I like about tennis is you're the only one," Perez said. "In soccer, there are excuses every time. You can say it was your teammates. In tennis, it's only you versus the other guy."

Whether it is changing sports or enviroments, Camilo immediately fit right in with everyone around him, Travis said.

"Camilo's adjustment to the [United States] has been exceptional," she said. "I have seen no signs of homesickness, language-barrier frustrations or academic challenges. He believes that he is being given a major opportunity to study and play tennis in the [United States] and stays true to this especially when he cannot go home very often.

"He is intrinsically motivated to succeed and make his family and everyone around him proud."

This spring is Perez's second tennis season at Delaware. He said although the tennis team's close bond was his first niche, he has grown to make other friends outside the team through residence halls, classes and work. Perez works at the Harrington computing site when he is not studying or at practice.

Most of Perez's family currently lives in Colombia and he goes back to visit at least once a year. This summer, he plans to stay in Delaware to participate in undergraduate research in electrical engineering.

"He juggles engineering, tennis and work with a realistic and positive perspective," Travis said. "He is outgoing and friendly with everyone. His continuous smile is contagious."

Although his schedule leaves him with little free time, Perez said he appreciates all of the opportunities he has been given at Delaware.

"It has been a great experience to be able to study and play tennis," Perez said. "Every year it's getting harder in academics, but I try to get some sleep, sometimes."

Story by: Michelle Trincia

Bookmark and Share