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 most kids had to focus only on school and sports while growing up, Vanessa found herself looking after her younger brother and sister in addition to focusing on school and soccer. Both her parents were frequently away from home, and Vanessa would often be the one making sure her siblings woke up on time, and would even drive them to and from school, before going to class herself.
As a first generation college 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 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 preserver 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 any excuses despite all of 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.
Vanessa will be recognized on March 27th at the California Community College Athletic Association Annual Convention, in Concord (CA).
For more information on the California Community College Counselors/Advisors Academic Association for Athletics, visit 3c4a.org