Pablo Cruz, an exercise physiology graduate and MSU Texas cyclist, began his cycling career in his home country of Honduras. What started as a friendly competition between classmates six years ago has turned into a career and pursuit of higher education.
“I started cycling with friends from college who would invite me to cycle with them. The first time I went I remember telling them this sport was not for me – I thought it was too hard, ”said Cruz. “Although I thought it was too hard when you’re young and racing against your friends, you want to get better, you want to beat them… that’s when I started to realize what point I really liked it. “
At the start, Cruz’s parents feared that the bike would be too dangerous for him. Being in Honduras, the rights of cyclists are relatively non-existent. However, Cruz said that to convince his parents that cycling was indeed good for him, he started participating in local races and coming home with medals.
“Once they saw me win these competitions, my parents started to see cycling in a positive way for me. After I graduated from high school there was a period where I rode a bike full time. I trained over 25 hours a week, cycling was my life; that’s all I did… that’s actually how I met the MSU coach and they offered me a scholarship, ”said Cruz.
Similar to Cruz’s initial thought about cycling, he explained that he had never been a good student in school and felt that education and college were not for him. His early days at MSU did little to allay those initial concerns.
“I remember thinking, ‘College? No, it’s not for me. My mind has always been focused on sports, sports and more sports. But once I told my parents about the opportunity, they told me to give it a chance, ”said Cruz. “However, when I got here my English was not that good. My first semesters were difficult; trying to study and understand what the teachers were saying in class I felt like I had to study and try twice as hard as everyone else around me.
Despite the difficult language barrier, due to the time and attention that Cruz devoted to education, he began to realize his interests in exercise physiology.
“After I graduate, what I would like to do with my degree is work in a performance center doing sports tests to help people become better – that’s what I would like to do. I don’t think I would go back to Honduras, especially with the degree I have. It’s not that there aren’t any opportunities – they’re just limited, ”said Cruz.
Although he feels that his future is not back in Honduras, Cruz is still missed by those he left when he arrived at MSU. Cruz said that being completely away from your family in another country can be very difficult and, at times, lonely.
“You know you’re all alone here, and your whole family is home. You just have yourself and you see your friends being close to their family and realizing that the only people you have, if any, are your friends. But what has helped me when I’m feeling lonely is to focus and bring attention to why I’m here – to achieve my goals and move forward in life. I also know that my family is proud that I am here in the United States for the opportunity to study and do what I love: cycling, ”said Cruz.
When Cruz reflects on all he has accomplished here at MSU, he says he is very proud of the fact that he would never have imagined himself to follow or complete such a high level of education. He is motivated by his father who died only two years after Cruz’s arrival at MSU. Cruz said that during his lifetime his father always told him to continue his studies because sport can only lead someone so far.
“Part of me feels like I’m doing what he’s always advised me to do. When you’re young, like me, it’s easy to only think and care about sport, but as my father always said… it’s important to have a plan B. Anything can happen when you play sport; you will never know one day if you get hurt and you will never be able to play again, because what will you do then? Education is the foundation of the future, ”said Cruz.