Nkechi (NK) Ilang ‘18

Hometown: Abuja, Nigeria

Major: Sociology

Not many can claim to be an international athlete by the time they were a high school freshman. Yet, this was exactly the case for Nkechi Ilang, otherwise known as NK, who came to the U.S. on scholarship for her basketball talent. Originally from Nigeria and completely unfamiliar with United States culture, NK was an introverted individual during her first year of high school, finding it difficult to find common ground among her peers. However, with the encouragement of her teammates and coaches, she was soon flourishing and began to adapt to the U.S. lifestyle.

Ready for a Challenge

As NK approached her senior year of high school, she was more than ready to handle the challenges of being an international student-athlete, and she began to receive offers from a variety of schools to play basketball. After visiting LMU, her decision was made, and she was such a rush to begin her studies that she was taking her classes in the summer before the fall of her freshman year. Now, NK is a senior sociology major, and she currently plays as a forward on the LMU women’s basketball team. She enjoys spending time with her teammates, and she has particularly appreciated the opportunities they have to work with Special Olympics program.

Valuing Her Faith

Yet, basketball is not the only reason NK was attracted to LMU. Raised as a Catholic, she was drawn in by LMU’s Jesuit identity, and she has often attended church with her teammates from LMU’s basketball team. Though she was often required to go to church every Sunday while she was at home, she now values having the ability to choose to do so, allowing her to appreciate her Catholic faith even more. In class, she has found it interesting sharing her perspective on her Catholic identity and seeing how it differs from those her U.S. friends.

A Global Hope

After her time at LMU, NK hopes to continue playing basketball and continue traveling around as an international athlete. She also hopes to one day use her education to help those back home by creating social programs for the people in Nigeria. In her free time, she enjoys interacting with new people and participating in spirted debates with her friends. She also likes to write stories, and she is a huge fan of Chinese food as well as food from her home country. Overall, she feels her time at LMU was of tremendous value, and her experience of being an international student athlete juggling all her responsibilities has helped to prepare her for life after college.