Oct. 23, 2013
This is Education. This is Growth. This is Auburn.
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - Growing up in the sprawling city of Buenos Aires on the west coast of Argentina, Camila Jersonsky was far away from Auburn in more ways than miles. But her love for volleyball would eventually lead her to travel almost 5,000 of miles north to a strange new world.
"There is nothing in common at all," Jersonsky says. "I like the big city, but it's exhausting. People are going crazy, always in a rush, always late. Going from one spot to another takes a half an hour at least. When I was going for practice, from my house to my club team was a 1 ½ -hour bus ride. It took forever. There is a lot of craziness, plus it's kind of dangerous. Here, it's completely opposite, 100 percent."
Jersonsky has thrived as an athlete and as a student at Auburn. She will graduate next year with a double major in polymer and fiber engineering and electrical engineering. Tiger coach Rick Nold says she has been a leader on and off the court.
"She's a big part of what we do offensively and defensively in the middle," Nold says. "We try to run a lot of stuff through her. Off the court, look at everything she's doing: double majoring in two different types of engineering. Doing that as well as being a foreign student-athlete is pretty tough. It's a great accomplishment."
It all happened almost by accident. Jersonsky was in Miami in 2009 to play in the Pan American Cup as part of Argentina's national team. Auburn's coaches were there to recruit players in another tournament.
"They just happened to be there watching the same game as I was," Jersonsky says. "That's when I met them, and we started sending emails back and forth. I was talking to the University of New Mexico because I have a friend there. Then I came on my official visit and I just loved it."
Jersonsky's parents played volleyball and got her started in the sport early, but there was a time when she thought she'd had enough.
"When I was 12, I felt like I had no free time because of volleyball," Jersonsky says. "I decided to quit. My dad pretty much brainwashed me into going back. I went back when I was 14, and I've been playing ever since."
Jersonsky says she has not, even for a day, regretted her decision to play at Auburn.
"I love the place," Jersonsky says. "I love that people are all nice to each other. There are no rude people. When you go into a store, people are really nice to you. Waitresses, people in general, are nice to you. It's really clean. Cities can be really dirty. People are really excited about the university team. They go support their athletes."
Jersonsky hasn't decided what she will do when her volleyball days are over and she has her degree in hand. She might return to Argentina, she says. And she might stay in the United States. What is certain is that she'll take her Auburn experience with her wherever she goes.
"In Argentina, college is free," Jersonsky says. "All you pay for is books, and it's not really books. It's photocopies, and it's like five bucks. It really wasn't about education. It was more about going back home with a degree from the U.S. All the facilities and machines and technology are better here. I will go back home saying I'm bilingual. Being able to play volleyball at a high level and study at the same time has been a great experience."