I am greatly honored and humbled upon being selected as a Connecting the Americas Champion of Change. Growing up in my native Caracas, Venezuela, my family always surrounded me with love and support and helped to instill in me the self-confidence and values necessary to achieve my goals in life. They were very supportive when I decided to attend high school in the United States and I was fortunate to be mentored here by my high school Coach, Stu.
All of these experiences enforced in me the desire to strive for excellence in my studies and integrity in my personal relationships. These values have also been important tools in achieving success in my professional career. I have learned the importance of working together with people from different backgrounds and different skills to make a positive impact in my life and the lives of those around me.
During my college basketball career and studies in Communications at the University of Maryland, I realized that utilizing my basketball skills would be a good way to reach out and positively influence children and young adults in Venezuela and in the United States. I began by participating in sports clinics in my native Venezuela and later in Maryland to realize my ambition of motivating and encouraging children and young adults to establish high goals for their future and to focus on their school studies. I have combined my sport skills with my strong values of respect and integrity to steer these young people towards achievement and strong family values. Since 2008, I have enjoyed being a motivational speaker at various engagements as another means to encourage the youth of Venezuela and the United States.
In 2011, I was honored to be invited by the US Department of State to participate in a “Sports Diplomacy” program at the US Embassy in Venezuela in an effort to “bridge the Americas” and to benefit schools and organizations in the US and in Venezuela. Through these avenues, I have helped more than 3,000 children and young people, by motivating them with a strong message to work hard and focus on their studies.
I plan to continue working with young people both in Venezuela and in the United States. There is nothing more important to their future than motivating them to succeed through hard work and self-discipline.
Greivis Vasquez is Point Guard for the New Orleans Hornets