“The most remarkable and life-changing years of my life.” That’s how senior Rafael Ruiz describes his experience at Barton.
With enthusiasm and a smile on his face, he demonstrates the passion he has for what he does and his charisma shows the excitement of what the future has in hold for him after graduation.
Originally from Spain, Ruiz is double-majoring in accountancy and business administration with finance emphasis, and he is a member of the men’s tennis team.
After he was recruited to play for the Bulldogs in the fall 2012, his life was never the same. Born and raised in Madrid, one of the most touristic and diverse cities in the world, Ruiz was used to a totally different lifestyle.
Everything was in constant change such as the food, daily activities, social life school system and even the time zone.
He believes that at first he was skeptical about change, but it was necessary for him to grow as a person.
“The fact that I had to live alone without my family for the first time made a huge different in my life because at first I was very dependent on people,” said Ruiz, “I’d depend a lot on my family and friends and then I happened to be alone and had to face life and grow up.”
Although every aspect of his new daily life was different, Ruiz adapted fast to the new environment.
“My first semester I was excited about school because everything was new and I believe it was the most fun semester of them all,” Ruiz said, “I was trying to have fun and enjoy the first semester in the U.S.”
Ruiz considers college a most important years of his life, where he not only learned about his field of study but most important was able to play the sport he loves, which also gave him lifetime friends.
“A lot of people knows me in school; they know my name and that I’m a tennis player,” said Ruiz, “but I have to say that my really close friends are those from the team and they have remained the same throughout these four years.”
Ruiz is has not only shown to be an outstanding tennis player, but also a role model in the classroom. Smiljana Kljajic, Ruiz’s girlfriend and teammate, describes Ruiz as a “very charismatic, funny but at the same time motivated and determined guy.”
He always gets what he wants by hard works and strong will,” Kljajic said. “He is definitely not a quitter and he is very passionate about things that are important to him.”
“Rafael is a person who will do anything in is power to obtain what he wants, from winning a tennis match to making sure to obtain the highest grade on the next test,”said Nicolas Genest, Ruiz’s teammate and former roommate. “He is a really competitive person, who needs challenges to push himself to the limits.”
Genest describes Ruiz as a focused and determine though emotional guy who loves having arguments and also cares about those around him and values friendship.
“I would describe my relationship with Rafael as like two brothers,” Genest said. “We grew differently through our college years and we have different interests, but I believe we love and care each other like two brothers would.”
Genest believes Ruiz will, without a doubt, be a successful man. He believes he has the characteristics and aptitudes to accomplish whatever he sets his mind for and more.
“When Rafael devotes himself to something, his focus is all there and it makes him unstoppable,” said Genest. “He will always devote all his effort to something that he believes in or that he has put his heart in.”
At his last semester of undergraduate studies, Ruiz is already visualizing his future career and preparing for it.
“I want to go to grad school and get a masters, so this semester I’m focused on preparing myself for the tests and interviews,” said Ruiz, “I’d also like to win the conference championship in my senior year. It’d be a very rewarding experience not only for me but for the whole team and it’d pay off for all the hard work we’re putting in as a team.”
Although Ruiz will be graduating in May 2016 and will be going back to his hometown, he doesn’t discard the possibility of coming back to the U.S. in the future.
“Go back to Spain and spend time with my family,” Ruiz said, “that doesn’t mean I will close the doors coming back to the U.S. and find a better job if possible, but once I do that I’ll like to come more prepared and ready for any challenge.”
With three months before he finishes his college experience, Ruiz said he’s still learning and growing up every day from his daily experiences.
“If I could go back in time and change something, the only thing I’d do is remind myself to enjoy more of the moment and give more value to some things that I think I’ll regret in the future,” said Ruiz.
“Sometimes we take for granted the good things, the good people, and the great moments because we’re too focused on something that have gone wrong, so we don’t leave space in your head for those things that actually matter.”
By Lorraine Chon-Qui