Triple jumper Dhiambi Otete shares how she balanced athletics and academics on the road to citizenship.
February 17, 2020 / by Sophia Chapin
Triple jumper Dhiambi Otete is a full believer in the power of participation — both on Mason’s NCAA Division I Track & Field team as well as in her new role: U.S. citizen.
“I really wanted to vote in the next election, so that was a key point in waking up every day and studying [for the test] — because if I could vote in next year’s election then I would be doing my civic responsibilities.”
In November 2019, she went through an extensive process involving tests and an interview to become a naturalized citizen. As she was completing the application, Otete had to balance a busy practice schedule and her first year of Honors College and computer science coursework. Her commitments require an unwavering mindset about what she wanted to achieve.
“The hardest thing about being an athlete is probably waking up at 7 A.M. to go to practice in the morning,” she remarks with some humor; triple jump is a technique-heavy event.
An athlete since age fourteen, it has taken Otete years of hard work and the right attitude to become a skilled jumper and sprinter. In 2017, she was honored with the Outdoor Most Improved Player award and the Indoor Team award. In addition, she was selected for the First Team All-District and the First Team All-Region awards, leading her to become an All-State record holder for Thomas A. Edison High School.
“[W]ithout my coach — his name was Coach C. — I wouldn’t be here today, because he really helped me a lot with the college process and picking out schools with the best D1 sports teams, and I really thank him for that.”
Since coming to Mason, her passion for track and field has only grown. To get through hard practices — and long days of study — Otete emphasizes the importance of positive affirmations.
“…the thing that makes me get up and go is how much I love running for track and field and how much I love the people there and all of the coaches. That always helps me get up and get over how early [I wake up for practice], because all of the staff here are really amazing.”
She also relies on her teammates to stay motivated, “I thought it was going to be hard to make friends on the track team — but I was wrong,” she says.
Otete will be competing most weekends of the spring season and hopes to keep working toward her goal of making it to the NCAA Atlantic 10 Conference Championships during her time at Mason. In the interim, you may find her casting a ballot in the general election on November 3rd, 2020.