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Taking a Different Path
Will Newsome overcomes adversity at HNU
Will Newsome

By the age of eight, Will Newsome ’17 knew he wanted to go to college.

Growing up, Newsome’s mother always emphasized the importance of education. Newsome wanted a different outcome for himself than what he was accustomed to seeing in his hometown of Richmond, California. “People who make it out of Richmond typically do so because of athletics. Or they fall through the cracks, ending up in jail, or they’re forgotten,” Newsome said.

As a high-performing student at Pinole Valley High School, Newsome excelled academically and athletically, playing varsity basketball and maintaining a 3.5 GPA over all four years. By senior year, his sights were set on some of the most prestigious schools in California. However, that winter, Newsome learned he had a serious heart condition and was told that his basketball career was over.

Undeterred, Newsome regrouped and applied to Holy Names University. Based primarily on his solid academic record, Newsome was admitted to HNU and enrolled early, but he kept his heart condition a secret. Newsome wanted basketball to be part of his college experience.

Newsome found the home he was looking for at HNU. Academics and basketball were his entire focus as he entered his freshman year, and he was still determined to play. After two weeks of pre-season conditioning, it became obvious to HNU Men’s Basketball Coach Omar Sanchez that Newsome was struggling. Newsome came clean, and Sanchez offered him two options: stay on the team in a support (i.e. non-playing) role, or come back and play when cleared by a doctor.

The doctors refused to clear him to play, and Newsome could not bear to sit on the sidelines. He found himself with no choice but to give up his basketball dream for good, but he was determined to start over and make a name for himself at HNU.

Since then, life at HNU has been “a blessing,” according to Newsome. “HNU’s small, supportive community made me feel like somebody, even without basketball,” he said. “I felt valued as a student, not just a dollar sign—which would’ve been the case with basketball at a big school.”

Today, Newsome serves in a variety of leadership roles on campus, including student ambassador, college mentor, peer mentor, orientation team leader, Black Student Union publicity coordinator, and publicity coordinator for Associated Students of HNU (ASHNU). “Every day I’m trying to make an impact,” he said.

Newsome earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies in May 2017.