For Jessica Furtado, the decision to move from one island to another for university was easy. While attending her high school career fair in Bermuda, Jessica was drawn to Cape Breton University. Friends of hers played on the CBU men’s soccer team, and hearing about their experiences on and off the field intrigued her even more. The sport is what ultimately brought Jessica to CBU, with Coach Ness Timmons reaching out and recruiting her to play. Now, Jessica is about to graduate from the Bachelor of Arts Community Studies (BACS) program with plans to continue her studies in the field of Education.
Playing on the CAPERS women’s soccer team is an experience Jessica will never forget. “It allowed me to see so much and shaped me to the person I am today,” she shares. During her first year on the team, Jessica received AUS Rookie of the Year and Second Team All-Star. The team also won their league and made it to Nationals in the same year, accomplishments Jessica remembers as highlights of her time with the team. More important than wins and titles, Jessica says the friendships and connections formed with teammates and coaches are something she’ll hold on to for a lifetime.
What Jessica enjoyed most about the BACS program was the close-knit community and attentive professors. “They were great to work with and very accommodating which made juggling my academic and athletic life easier,” she says. Jessica says being an international student so far from home while balancing soccer and school was hard, but the support systems at CBU made it easier. To Elaine MacNeil, Marketing Professor at Cape Breton University, Jessica extends her sincerest thanks. “She made it easy to adjust to life at CBU because she was always there for me no matter what,” she recalls of Elaine. “Even after leaving CBU we kept in touch and she still checks in from time to time. I can’t thank her enough for pushing me to finish my degree.”
Now, reflecting back on her journey, Jessica says she already misses representing CBU as an athlete. “In the community I felt like a celebrity, it was so heartwarming. Everyone knew who I was and was always so kind when I’d meet them,” she says. “ I was also lucky to have the opportunity to work in the community and impact the younger kids who looked up to us.”
Jessica is leaving CBU confident that she is well prepared for her future. “CBU taught me how to be a more independent, hardworking individual and to never give up,” she says. Graduating during a global pandemic feels a bit strange to Jessica, but she understands and appreciates the calls that have been made to keep the community safe.
To her fellow graduates, Jessica says, “I know this is a very challenging time for us all and it’s probably not the way we wanted to end our time at CBU but it’s important to remember all of the hard work you’ve put in to get where you are. Congratulations! I wish you all the best with your future endeavours. Stay safe and continue to do great things.”
Congratulations to Jessica and the Fall 2020 Graduating Class!