Abiola Sasore, an international graduate student in the athletic training program, recently accepted an internship with the San Francisco 49ers.
Sasore, who was born and raised in Ireland, grew up playing sports and wanted to be an athletic trainer. He also knew the best place to learn the profession was in the U.S.
“Being an international student, you think about the big schools in America and UCF is definitely one of them,” Sasore said. “UCF has always been my dream school.”
Sasore hangs an Irish flag on his wall to remind him of where he came from and an American flag on his ceiling to remind him where he is headed.
“Who would’ve thought a small-town boy like me from Ireland is making it this far in America,” Sasore says.
After graduation, Sasore plans on working in a Division I college and working his way up to the NFL or NBA. He believes this internship will get him closer to that goal. When he learned he’d landed the position, he says he felt like he was in a dream.
“Hearing that I got the position has pushed me more in my education and striving to learn and become a great athletic trainer. I plan on going there with an open mind and determination to work. The opportunity to learn from the best athletic trainers at the highest level is what I am hoping to gain,” Sasore says.
Sasore left Ireland to earn his bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation science from Arkansas Tech University then moved to Florida to pursue a master’s degree in athletic training from UCF. Moving countries and then moving states was difficult for Sasore, but he was able to find comfort in the people he met. Sasore says he talks to his family every single day. He has nieces and nephews who see him as a role model, the same way he looks up to his siblings.
As a graduate assistant, Sasore designs web courses for students and staff and he reaches out to athletic trainers to volunteer for games, matches and track meets whenever he can. As a member of First Year Experience, he peer-mentors 14 students at a time who are new to college.
“You tell your own narrative of how you experienced college and what you did right, what you did wrong and help somebody through that process,” Sasore says.
As a former athlete, Sasore understands the challenges an athlete can face without the help of an experienced athletic trainer. Having played basketball, soccer, and Gaelic football, a traditional Irish game, sports have led him to his career, brought meaningful relationships into his life and taught him valuable lessons.
Sasore also has advice for other students who are interested in pursuing a career in athletic training. “Everyone you meet will have something to teach you,” Sasore says. “At UCF, you will be surrounded by amazing athletic trainers – pick their brains. Keep building those connections and learning every day.”