One of the things that makes RIT an exciting university to attend is the student diversity featured right on campus. The school welcomes people from all different backgrounds: every single state is represented as well as over 100 countries. Not only does this diversity add a unique and varied perspective in classroom, but it also can be seen on the playing field. Our international student athletes often have very different backgrounds and experiences from their American team members. These athletes bring culture both to our academic environment and our sports teams. Here's a more in-depth look at three of them.

  • Karen Blanco
  • Sport: Cheerleading
  • Favorite food: Dark chocolate
  • Favorite movie: "The Little Mermaid"
  • Interesting fact: Has been vegan for two years now
  • Hometown: Caraca, Venezuela  
  • Major: Nutrition Management

Since cheerleading does not exist in Blanco’s home country of Venezuela, she was first introduced to the sport through movies.

“I can remember watching them and thinking, 'Oh my gosh, I would love to do that,'" Blanco recalled.

After being on a dance team back home for many years, Blanco initially did not try out for the RIT cheer squad because she came late to school and was convinced she would be transferring once the year was over. After she fell in love with RIT and decided to pursue a major in nutrition management, she eagerly tried out her sophomore year and made it on the squad.

However, the transition from Venezuela to an American university was far from easy for Blanco.

“At first it was really hard because you don’t show physical affection,” Blanco said. “Whenever I would meet new people, I would want to give them a kiss on the cheek. That doesn’t really happen here.” Now, she makes sure to let people know about that side of her culture. “We just got done with tryouts actually, and I made sure to clarify -- disclaimer, I spank! If you don’t feel comfortable with that, please let me know!”

Now in her third year, Blanco is incredibly excited about the upcoming season.

“Our new coach [Katie Post] is much more open to new things,” Blanco said. “She really knows how to take comments and criticisms that we have. She cares about us so much. When we are doing a stunt, she asks us whether we are comfortable to move on and make it more complicated”.   

Look out for Blanco and the rest of her squad at all the home basketball games this season, as well as the cheerleading competitions this spring!

  • Pablo Ordorica
  • Sport: Tenni
  • Favorite food: Sushi.
  • Favorite movie: "Guardians of the Galaxy"
  • Interesting fact: Has a third place world ranking in windsurfing
  • Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico
  • Major: Computer Engineering

Ordorica's dad was a championship tennis player, but after an injury he began to teach Ordorica the sport. Despite not being too fond of it at first, he tried it again when he was 11 with his grandmother’s coach. Soon, Ordorica became dedicated to his sport.

“My friends did not play tennis," Ordorica said. "It was more for me and my family.”

Ordorica also played other racket sports like ping pong and enjoyed them as well. He played tournaments when he was younger, but was not able to play in high school.

“I'm excited for playing tournaments," Ordorica said. "I love the sport, and because I haven't played it in a while I'm looking forward to playing a lot more competitively. Comparing RIT to any other university back in Mexico City, RIT is way better.”

The most difficult transition for Ordorica was going from his eating schedule to ours. He remarks that we eat early in the morning, early in the afternoon and early at night.

"In Mexico, we usually eat early in the morning, something before lunch, lunch at 2 pm, something in the mid afternoon, and something at 9 or 10 pm," Ordorica said.

  • Jarryd Lee
  • Sport: Lacrosse
  • Favorite food: Zucchini Slice, an Australian type of quiche
  • Favorite movie: "Shutter Island" or "Big Hero 6"
  • Interesting fact: Believes us Americans are all missing out when it comes to Vegemite. “It's probably the best spread there is.”  
  • Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
  • Major: Software Engineering

Lee's first encounter with lacrosse was a happy accident.

“My brother’s team was short on players for their first game so I ended up filling in. I loved it,” he recalled. “I was eight at the time and they were all 10, 11 and 12, but I was just as big as most of them.” From that moment onward, Lee’s life was consumed by lacrosse, but he also had a passion for video games and computers. By the time college had rolled around, Lee had decided to go abroad.

“I wanted to get out of Australia and have an experience that I couldn't get back home,” Lee explained.

Although RIT is an ideal place for Lee both academically and athletically, there are undeniably some things he misses about home. The biggest culture shock for him initially was the pace of life.

“Everything here seems a lot less relaxed, people always seem like they're in a rush to get somewhere or do something,” Lee explained, “Back home everything feels very casual and everyone is easy-going.” Like many of our international students, Lee also can’t take too many trips home, since Australia is halfway across the globe. “I only get to see my parents and brother once a year. I’ve gotten pretty used to it, but sometimes it would be nice to be able to drive and go see them,” he admits.

Like Ordorica and Blanco, Lee is also really looking forward to this year’s lacrosse season - and what makes the difference is the people.

“The boys on the team are great,” Lee said enthusiastically. “Everyday with them is a great time.” In addition, the team is hungry. “We’ve had some heartbreaking losses close to the finals over the last couple years,” said Lee. “I know the boys are going to be ready, and I’m going to come out guns blazing.”