HONOLULU (BVM) – For many, going to Hawaii is a once in a lifetime vacation. However, for softball player Charlize Dejesus, this is the path to the next step of her softball journey.
Dejesus completed her freshman season for Chaminade University in the 2022 season. During the campaign, she made three appearances as a pitcher and five as a batter. However, what makes her story unique is her journey across the country.
Dejesus is from Colonia, New Jersey. The fastest non-stop flight you can take to Hawaii in the area is from John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Hawaii; an eleven hour flight. Being this far away can have its downside.
“The hardest part is definitely not being able to just come home for the weekend or visit my family or hang out with my friends back in New Jersey whenever I’d like,” Dejesus said.
Many college students are able to regularly come back home to visit their family, or go to another nearby campus to visit friends. This luxury isn’t available to Dejesus. This means that, more than anyone, Dejesus needs to rely on her coaches and her teammates to be there for her.
“One thing that is very prevalent in our team is how important culture is in our team dynamic,” Dejesus said. “Part of that is how we are all one big family and that has definitely helped with transitioning to college life.”
Of course, even with having a great group of coaches and teammates, keeping in touch with her family is very important and with a five-to-six hour time zone difference, depending on the time of year, it could be a difficult task for some.
“For me, it was not that difficult,” Dejesus said. “I made time to call my family almost every day and we worked together to work around each other’s schedules so we could keep in touch.”
Many children dream of going to college far away from their home. Whether it be for the best possible education, experiencing new things or just to get away from their house for a bit. But, very few people imagine going to the other side of the world like Dejesus. Growing up, the idea wasn’t too far-fetched.
“In some ways I did imagine it because I had always wanted to go back to Hawaii,” Dejesus said. “I just didn’t imagine going back to the island because I was attending school there.”
The location is a dream vacation spot for many. Very few people think of Hawaii as a spot to receive an education, especially if you live on the east coast. The experience has become something that Dejesus wouldn’t change
“Now that I have attended Chaminade University for a year, I don’t think I would change much,” Dejesus said after being asked about her collegiate choice. “I have made great friends and have experienced so many new things here. I love the small tight-knit community that Chaminade has and being able to play softball while also working towards a degree has been a really great experience.”
Despite the obvious hurdles, Dejesus believes that attending Chaminade University comes with more upsides than downsides. The “tight-knit” community has without a doubt made her transition to college easier. So much so, she believes her transition from high school to college wasn’t anymore difficult compared to the average student.
Dejesus will continue to pursue her education in behavioral science while also looking to improve on the softball field. With support both from her teammates in Hawaii and her friends and family back home in New Jersey, she has a great support system that should help her reach her goals.