- Kalamazoo Public Schools
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EnRico Montalvo graduated from Loy Norrix High School in 2011. This fall he will complete a graduate degree in sport and exercise physiology at the University of Roehampton in London, after which he hopes to stay in Europe and to break into elite performance coaching.
Tell us a little about your background.
I grew up in the Milwood neighborhood. I attended Greenwood Elementary School preschool, Milwood Elementary, Milwood Middle School, and Loy Norrix High School. I think growing up in these environments helped to develop my ability to connect with people from different socioeconomic backgrounds other than my own.
Tell us about any teachers or school-related activities that had a special impact on you.
A couple of teachers that positively influenced my interest in Spanish were Mina French and Christina Holmes at Loy Norrix. The energy that they brought to the class made learning fun. In terms of soccer, Matt McCullough was passionate about the sport, and I think that passion resonated with me. I enjoyed the challenge of constantly trying to improve. I met two of my best friends through that program. I was also able to make friends with kids from Germany, Haiti and Ecuador. I was amazed at how people from other places shared the interest in the game.
Did you use The Promise to attend Western Michigan University?
I attended KPS from kindergarten, so I was able to use 100 percent of The Kalamazoo Promise. I majored in exercise science and Spanish.
Talk about your study abroad experience.
I hadn’t considered study abroad until an advisory meeting with Dr. Robert Felkel toward the end of my academic career at WMU. The experience really helped to shape my outlook on life. I received the Benjamin A. Gilman international scholarship for my study in South America. From a language acquisition perspective, cultural immersion is the best way to learn. It takes the learning out of the classroom and into everyday life. Study abroad develops your ability to problem solve, adapt to new surroundings, and work with different populations.
Talk about your decision to pursue a graduate degree in England.
I was not entirely sure what sort of program I wanted to enter but I knew I wanted to obtain a master’s. I didn’t even consider studying in the U.K. until I went to a graduate school fair at WMU. A program called Across the Pond had a booth and they told me that the tuition costs are often cheaper and GRE scores aren’t required for admission. I am currently studying for a degree in sport and exercise physiology at the University of Roehampton in London. I chose this university because they have an official partnership with Crystal Palace Football Club, a team that plays in the top tier of professional soccer in the U.K.
Share more details about your work with Crystal Palace.
I never envisioned myself commuting to a Premier League stadium/training ground for work. I currently work as a health and well-being intern in the charity department called the Palace for Life Foundation. The foundation has a program called Healthy Eagles which allows me to deliver health workshops to kids and families in south London. It’s rewarding to have a positive impact on people’s health. Off the clock, I volunteer as a performance coach for one of the development programs for 18/19 year-olds from the United States.
What advice do you have for younger students in terms of finding a passion and then finding a way to make a career out of it?
I would say identify what you are good at and look into something related to what you enjoy. For example, you may enjoy music, but you might not be very musically talented. Look into careers that are involved with music production or management. The point is that you want to find a career path that speaks to your passion. You want work to feel like a hobby instead of work. If you’re having trouble figuring out what path you want to take, try volunteering in that field. Most professionals are open to having students shadow, because they were once curious students too. It’s a great way to get hands-on experience. You may decide to continue in that direction. It also allows you to say, “You know what, I didn’t really enjoy that. I’m going to try something else.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to tell students that it’s OK to not know what you want to do yet. I think high school students feel pressured to have all the answers. That can be overwhelming for teenagers. Don’t be afraid to fail. Try to aim as high as you can even if you are anxious about an undesired outcome. Anyone who has ever been successful has probably failed a few times. The most important part is to never stop trying.