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Student from Brasília earns scholarship for physical education in the US

Daughter of a school guard and a street vendor, Vitória Loiola won a scholarship to major in physical education in the US

After earning a spot on the women’s soccer team of the Clube Atlético Mineiro to compete in the Brazilian Under-18 Championship in 2021, a student from Brasília, seventeen-year-old Vitória Carvalho Loiola, scored another goal, this time in a more distant land. She received a full scholarship to study physical education at Central Baptist College in Conway, Arkansas, in the US. The help of classmates and students’ parents, who promoted a true action among friends, was decisive in her getting the much sought-after professional qualification.

The daughter of a school guard and a street vendor, her father, Antônio Gilson, 53, has worked at the school for 31 years. Her mother, Ana Cleide Carvalho, 48, contributes to the household budget by selling pamonha.

Vitória says she initially started applying for scholarships in universities in Florida, which is strong in soccer. While she didn’t reach this goal, she pursued a career in sports in Brazil, dreaming of representing the country on the Brazilian National Team and playing in the World Cup and the Olympics.

During her stay in Belo Horizonte, which lasted about five months, Vitória dedicated herself to training daily at the gym and the famous Cidade do Galo, the training center of Atlético Mineiro, until she was called to play as a striker. “I lived a dream. Playing for Atlético Mineiro in a Brazilian championship and meeting other girls who shared this passion was surreal,” she said.

Vitória says that while still in Belo Horizonte she got more persistent in looking for the possibilities of scholarships in institutions that fit her perspectives. There, she counted on the collaboration of Uai Soccer Academy, Play Like a Girl, and Zest Consulting. “It was a long process—one that involved many hours of video recordings. But in the end, it all worked out well,” she says.

At School of the Nations, the still young girl saw her passion for soccer grow. Donning the number 7 jersey of the Cougars, the school’s team, she participated in three soccer tournaments at the International Schools Sports League (ISSL) in Minas Gerais, held among international schools in Brazil.

Vitória remembers giving voice to her gift for soccer early on, playing on the school’s soccer fields.

“I remember when I was little, I used to play soccer during recess, during physical education classes, whenever it was possible to play. I played with boys for a long time until the school brought new opportunities by creating a girls’ team and started participating in school championships.”

In the last tournament she participated in before the pandemic, in 2019, Vitória was voted MVP (most valuable player) among the athletes at her school and took home the gold for the first time in the history of School of Nations’ girls’ team. Now, she aims to reach even higher. “I want other girls to fulfill their dreams, have a purpose in life, study in good schools, and work in the field of sports,” she highlights, saying that her goal after graduating is to apply her knowledge in Brazil, helping especially the less fortunate.

The future member of the Lady Mustangs — the official North American college team — went to the United States with the help of parents of students from the school who promoted an online collection and raised R$ 15 thousand reais, enough to cover the cost of the passport, visa, and airfare. “The school was fundamental for me in every way. If it weren’t for the administration, teachers, and classmates, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Words can’t express my gratitude and happiness,” she said.

Vitória confesses that adapting to her new life, far from family and friends, has not been easy, but she admits that time is in her favor and that the appreciation of sports in that country is striking. “It is a completely different culture. I’ve already noticed that sport is much more respected here than in Brazil. Not to mention the climate, which is very hot and dry, much more so than in Brasília.”

Vitória’s sister Luana, 26, also studied at School of the Nations on a scholarship and today works as a bilingual secretary in a large corporation in São Paulo. “The school was fundamental to our education, both morally and in learning a second language, and defining our professions,” says Vitória.

At School of the Nations, the university preparation program emphasizes developing bilingual academic proficiency in English and Portuguese. From Grade 9 onward, students choose either the international or bilingual high school program. Those who meet the requirements receive both international and Brazilian diplomas.

Antônio Gilson, Vitória’s father, doesn’t hide his pride in his daughter or her achievement. “I have no words. She’s always been very studious and dedicated. Since she was a little girl, she has said her dream was to go to college in the United States. Thank God and the school, which is a true family, she reached her goal. I appreciate immensely the help of everyone who collaborated so she could achieve her dream.”

Her mother, Ana Cleide, also brims with pride and joy.

“Vitória always wanted to be a recognized player and do what she loves: to be on the field. I never understood much about soccer, but I’ve always supported her, and more than anyone, she deserves this achievement,” she says. “Since she was a little girl, she has shown a considerable will to learn, and with time, this determination grew. Her commitment to her studies and her search for her dream profession is now paying off.”

Physical education teacher and coach Kaio Vinicius Fernandes Lamounier highlights Vitória’s empathy and collaborative spirit. “She is an enlightened girl, always polite, respectful, and happy. I have always joked with her, saying she was born facing the moon. And it was this natural brightness that led her to so many achievements,” he said, highlighting the student’s natural talent for soccer. “I’m hopeful she will be a great player in the future and bring a lot of joy to us. This is her life goal,” he adds.



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