SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – At Seton Hall, the oldest diocesan university in the United States, developing servant leaders remains at the core of the student experience more than 150 years after the school was founded.
For some, that experience can be more profound than it is for others. In a recent first-hand account written for for the home site of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), junior women’s tennis standout Rocio Portela (Demetrio Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) opened up regarding how formative her time at SHU has been and the role that the faith-based values she has renewed during her time in South Orange now play in her life on and off the court.
“Honestly, my faith was a huge part of the reason I chose to come to Seton Hall,” Portela said. “My decision was more about tennis and academics.”
In the entry featured on the Focus.org homepage, Portela candidly recounts how attending Bible study organized by Varsity Catholic, a division of FOCUS, helped kick-start a shift in consciousness that has enriched her daily routine and provided her with a new perspective on many of the activities that it includes.
“Faith plays a huge role in my life now,” Portela continued. “Coming here, I felt a lot of pressure to perform athletically and academically. Sometimes that pressure can cause you not to perform as well as you want too. Through finding FOCUS, it was cool to learn that my success as a person is not measured just by success on the court or in the classroom. Once I started thinking that way, everything seemed to get better.”
Now in her third year at Seton Hall, Portela continues to be actively involved with FOCUS both on campus and abroad, balancing those commitments with a demanding academic and athletic schedule.
“I started by attending Bible study once a week, but last year I actually led a Bible study,” said Portela. “This year too, I led a Bible study for freshmen, so I’m a lot more involved now than I was freshman year. I also had the chance to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic through Varsity Catholic and then helped coordinate a recent trip they did to Puerto Rico over winter break. Since I was home, I got to stop by for a day and those were awesome experiences for me.”
“After I got involved with FOCUS, I became more aware that as a student-athlete here at Seton Hall, you are very recognizable for better or worse. I believe that working with FOCUS and Varsity Catholic have been great opportunities to set a good example and show that athletics and the profile that athletes have can be used as a way to positively impact the community as well.”
To view Portela's piece on the FOCUS homepage, click HERE
For more information on FOCUS at Seton Hall, click HERE