Student-Athlete Spotlight

Erica Higa, ENG'18 - Women's Soccer

1. Name: Erica Higa

2. Class Year: 2018

3. Sport: Women's Soccer

4. Position: Midfielder/Forward

5. Why did you choose Penn?
Early on I knew that Penn would give me the opportunity to push myself to be my best in my sport and in the classroom. Still, the thought of leaving California behind for a school in Philadelphia was daunting. The historic buildings, groundbreaking research, and world-wide prestige of an Ivy League university with a highly competitive soccer program filled me with both nerves and excitement. But as soon as I met some girls on the team during my first unofficial visit, I knew that I would have a second family here.

6. What does the experience of being a Penn Soccer student-athlete mean to you?
Pride! There is no greater feeling than singing the Red & Blue after a win on Rhodes Field. It brings our group of 28 girls together with the nearly three hundred years of Penn traditions. The feeling is surreal. 

7. What would you say to the donors who invest in your experience as a Soccer student-athlete?
Thank you, thank you, thank you. The experiences that my teammates and I get to partake in are completely impossible without your support. The investment that you make in us goes towards the memories that we make together that will last a lifetime. I look forward to joining the club!

8. What has been your favorite moment/memory with Penn Soccer?
Being on the field during a win is always an incredible feeling, but being off the field and knowing that your extraordinary team will continue to fight and pull through is even bigger. This season, I endured a concussion during the second half of our opening game against Harvard. But I was prouder than ever of my team that evening. We came away with our program’s first win in Cambridge in ten years. The celebration, the overwhelming love and support from alumni, and the praise we received from all over Penn Athletics when we returned home reminded us that the win is not just for ourselves, but for everyone in the Penn community.

9. What does life after Penn look like?
During the past two years, I have been a part of Penn Engineering’s Global Service Learning “Rwanda Gashora Program,” as a student in 2016 and the student leader in 2017. The program sparked a love for Rwanda and passion for using my engineering experiences to have true impact on others’ lives. I helped lead the implementation of a water pipeline delivery system that today is providing a consistent source of water to the Gashora Health Center, which serves as the primary healthcare facility for 20,000 people. I plan on returning to Rwanda after graduation with a few equally enthusiastic classmates to continue this work on addressing the need for clean water in rural health centers throughout the country. 

10. What are some lessons that you have learned through athletics at Penn that will stay with you after graduation?
Being a student-athlete at Penn has taught me how to manage my time, put the team before myself, be a good teammate, bounce back from failure, use a growth mindset, accept no excuses, and control what I can control. I have learned how to make time for what I’m really passionate about and do away with distractions, how to understand tendencies of different teammates and bring out the best in them, and how to push myself beyond the limits I thought I had. Being a member of Penn Athletics has shaped me into the individual I am today, and I am so thankful for that.