Rodrigo Correa - Management

Rodrigo Correa

Rodrigo Correa, one of four players selected for the Division I All-Academic Team, is a definitive scholar athlete. He grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and was recruited to play at NJIT.

When did you start playing Volleyball?
I started when I was 10-years old. At first I’d go to matches just to watch. But two years later, I was captain of my state’s team: Esporte Clube Pinehiros. And in 2004 I was captain of my state's under 19 team, which won the national championship. In 2004 and 2005 I was invited to the under-19 national team selection process. In Brazil, the big tournaments feature the club, not the high schools. We don’t have big high-school tournaments.

What was it like growing up in Brazil? What was your family life like?
It was pretty normal. I am from the biggest city in Brazil, Sao Paulo, which is the 3rd biggest city in the world. I did what every child does: go to the mall, the movies, etc. It was city life; pretty much like I imagine growing up in New York City is like. When I started practicing sports, I used to go to the sports club every day.

How did you wind up coming to NJIT, and what do you like about the school?
I got in contact with coach McNeil. I sent him a videotape of my playing, and he offered me an athletic scholarship. I enjoyed being offered the scholarship mostly because of the school’s location. Later on, when I first came to NJIT, I realized that the school has people from every place in the world. That is really nice, because I can say that I have friends from everywhere: Europe, Asia, Africa, etc.

I’m very grateful for the scholarship NJIT gave me. I am really enjoying my studies here, and I believe my GPA is a refection of that.

Was it difficult coming to live and study in a new country?
It was difficult to leave family and friends behind. But it was a good experience -- starting anew and making all new friends, sharing the same experiences with them. At first I had trouble with the language, but during the last two years I learned a lot.

It’s hard doing everything by myself, without my parents, but I have my friends.

Three of the four players who made the All-Academic team are from Brazil? How do you account for that?
Volleyball has become a sport like soccer in Brazil, so many players quit school at young ages to go pro. I believe that we three never had the intention to become professional players and we also knew the importance of studying and pursuing a careers. What we did was basically extracting as much as possible of a passion. The sport is the means we used to get to college, but studying is most important to us.

What made your team so successful this season?
The whole team was focused on the goals we set at the beginning of the year: to win the conference, beat the teams we lost to last year, improve our record and show that NJIT has a great volleyball program. We worked hard the whole season, practicing at 5:30 a.m. in the morning, lifting weights, running. We did everything to accomplish our goals. And winning the division in our conference and being ranked nationally is just a result of all this work.

You're a great athlete but also a terrific student. Talk about your studies at NJIT?
I am a management student with a concentration in finance. What influenced me to study those fields was that fact that my father, who died last September, was an economist. He was a former CFO of an apple producer in southern Brazil called Renar Apples. Before being the CFO of Renar, he also worked in a couple banks, mostly in the stock market area. My mother graduated as a bio-medicine major but now she makes jewelry. I recall during my first semester, I used to have long conversations with my father about economics and finance, fields I was just learning about. I’ll never forget those talks with my father.

How has being in the Honor College helped you?
It challenges me to constantly improve my work. I applied to the honors college because it was demanding and I wanted to improve my English. I wanted to be amongst the best students and to merge intense studies with my volleyball. So far I’ve been able to do that. The top students in the Honors College inspire me to work harder.

Is it hard for you to balance your studies and volleyball?
It takes a lot of work to do both well. I had to study on the bus a couple times, and even do some readings on the airplane for a class. I try to do pay strict attention in classes, and take diligent notes; that helps me study more efficiently.

What are your plans after you graduate from NJIT?
I graduate in May 2009. Right now, I don’t really have a plan. But if a good opportunity presents itself, and I can stay in the US, either for a job or to attend graduate school, I’ll stay here. If not, I’ll return to Brazil. Having a degree from NJIT will help me immensely either way.

Rodrigo's Stats

Academics Volleyball
  • Received the Professor’s Excellence Award for outstanding academic, character and leadership abilities
  • Received a School of Management award for being the sophomore with the highest GPA: a 3.96.
  • Scholar in the Albert Dorman Honors College
  • Recruited from Brazil to play at NJIT.
  • Ranked 20th in the country for assists.
  • Ranked 8th in his conference with for assists, with 991 assists in 86 games.
  • Had a record-high 65 assists in one game.
  • Picked for the NCAA Division I All-Academic team