University of Eastern Michigan
Major - Psychology
Q & A – Justin Griggs University of Eastern Michigan
2000 – 2012
Q. What made you decide to compete and study at a US college?
A. “I had always been curious about the concept of a Sports scholarship in the US. In school I attended a lecture looking at the possibility and was told I it was probably too late (I was in year 12 at the time). It all seemed a bit too hard, the process seemed massive. So I took the ‘safe option’ of completing university in Australia. I actually studied for four years in Australia before finally being given the opportunity to go”
Q. How did you commence the process and how long did it take?
A. “It’s hard to say as I was looking the do it on my own for 12 months before contacting Noel. From the time I spoke to Noel to getting on a plane to head to the US it was just over 12 months”
Q. How did it compare to competing in your sport in Australia?
A. “For Swimming it was far superior to anything I’ve experienced here. The atmosphere at our championship meet was similar to an AFL final (on a smaller scale obviously)”
Q. What qualities do you feel a student athlete needs to possess to be successful at a US university?
A. “As a student athlete you need to be independent and really mentally strong. If you are going straight out of school you need to be confident in the person you are and who you want to be. As you live on a college with thousands of young adults aged roughly 18-24, there is the potential to do some really great things or do some really stupid things. Insecure or less confident people could easily end up being convinced to do things they would never do in Australia just because you don’t have the same support network and you are associating with people who have a completely different set of values and upbringing to you. There’s nothing wrong with going outside your comfort zone, but it’s important to not forget who you are just because you’re in a different country”
Q. How did you balance your athletic and academic interests during your scholarship?
A. “Personally I found balancing athletic and academic interests quiet easy in the US compared to Australia, primarily because I only needed to worry about swimming and study. In Australia I was trying to balance part time work as well to try and pay my study and other bills. I also had to travel 2 hours a day to get from home to training to university and back home whereas in the states everything is so close there is hardly any time wasted on travel”
Q. What are the key challenges you encountered during your scholarship?
A. “I found the temperature (-20 degrees Celsius at times) to be challenging as I really enjoy getting outside and getting some sun and that obviously isn’t possible in winter where I was situated (Michigan). Being away from your family and friends is difficult especially in the first month or two but does become easier as you make new friends and settle in”
Q. What were some of your most memorable moments during your experience?
A. I’ll never forget my first conference which was at our home pool, huge atmosphere. Living with my teammates was awesome. Getting to travel around the US while I was there also made the experience much richer. The best thing though was meeting my beautiful fiancé while I was there”
Q. Would you recommend other students consider a US scholarship experience?
A. “I would definitely recommend considering it. It will not be for everyone as with everything in life however it is a great opportunity to get some benefit for your sporting expertise. It is a huge decision though and you need to make sure you have the right match in terms of your university, study options, scholarship offer and the sports coach you’ll be working with which is why I choose to seek assistance from Noel and American athletic scholarships. If you can get that balance right for you then I can’t see why you wouldn’t give it a go”
Q. How did you benefit from studying and competing in the US college system?
A. “What I got from a sports scholarship was basically that I got paid to study and swim, two things that I was doing already in Australia but having to pay for myself. I also got to see a different part of the world and meet a bunch of awesome people. Through this opportunity I was also able to extend my swimming career a number of years”