By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It has been quite the college career for Villanova’s Jessica Wamala.
The senior is co-captain of the Wildcats women’s basketball team. She’s earned a scholarship after starting her career as a walk-on. The Milford, New Hampshire, native has already earned her bachelor of arts degree with majors in political studies, Arab and Islamic studies and global interdisciplinary studies. She’s now on track to graduate in May with a master’s degree in political science.
As if that wasn’t enough, Wamala was recently chosen as one of 32 Rhodes Scholars representing the United States. That means the opportunity for further study, all expenses paid, at Oxford University in England.
“It’s very exciting,” Wamala tells KYW Newsradio. “I still can’t get over the news myself.”
Wamala says she intends to use this opportunity to continue to build an incredibly impressive academic resume.
“I will be going to Oxford to study modern Middle Eastern studies, which is a two-year Masters of Philosophy program,” Wamala says. “It specifically focuses on teaching about Middle Eastern politics, but also Arabic language. I hope to really develop my Arabic language skills as well.”
Wamala talks about where she hopes her education eventually leads her.
“I definitely am interested in joining the foreign service,” Wamala says. “Working for the State Department as a diplomat has been a goal of mine now for the last two years. And I definitely see it as just a really vibrant and exciting career where I could still be learning on the job every day, but also have the chance to travel every few years. So that’s a really enticing career and I still plan on pursuing that.”
Now taking on the educational challenges Wamala has during her time at Villanova is an incredible achievement on its own merits. Then you throw in being a Division I athlete, and it becomes all the more impressive. Wamala says playing hoops is really a great outlet for her.
“It’s a great game in the sense that it does provide a lot of release,” Wamala says. “And as a competitive person I really enjoy practice because it’s a chance to really stand out.”
And she says she has really enjoyed her time as a member of the Villanova squad.
“We made it to the NCAA Tournament last year for the first time in my four years,” Wamala says. “So that was really exciting. Our team has definitely become closer and the camaraderie has been really special. And its been really amazing to watch individual players develop, but also to see our team develop and really everyone’s so supportive of each other in our on the court and off the court pursuits. So its been really exciting to now be able to lead this team.”
Wamala is the third Villanova student-athlete to receive a Rhodes Scholarship and the first since 1994.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.