For Alana Trotter combining her love of basketball, family and academics has been a time-consuming but treasured task.
This past summer, the redshirt sophomore on the Wisconsin womens basketball team took some time out from her summer weight training, conditioning and playing to fly halfway across the world to Africa. Her mother, Dr. Dana Trotter, sponsors 20 children in Kenya through Matanyas Hope, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating children in the poverty-stricken country.
For about a year and a half my mom was encouraging me to go on a mission trip to Africa, Trotter explained. I was a little hesitant at first.
She said it would be a really good experience and that it was an opportunity that I really shouldnt pass up. My brother, Aleksas, passed away in April and the founder of Matanyas Hope wanted to name the mission trip after him. They named it the Aleksas Trotter Memorial Mission. After finding out it was going to be a trip in his honor, I knew it was an experience I wanted to be a part of.
Trotter, a 5-9 guard, flew to London with her sister, but traveled alone all the way to Kenya.
I was originally supposed to go to Africa with my sister, but at the last minute I ended up going alone, Trotter explained. It was great to be there in Kenya representing my family and honoring my brothers life. I was there for 10 days. During those 10 days I stayed with three families, learned about the culture, interacted with children that were sponsored by Matanyas Hope and also danced a lot. One of the last days was dedicated to my brother.
Looking back, Trotter has taken much more away from the trip than just an opportunity to experience the culture of Kenya. The trip really opened her eyes to the world and some of the things that she learned during the 10 days will stick with her for the rest of her life.
It was a very emotional experience, but I was able to honor my brothers life in another part of the world through the eyes of children, Trotter explained. It really put things in perspective for me and taught me not to take anything for granted.
Trotter will take her encounter with another culture deep into the future. She wants to continue to help people after graduating from UW.
Trotter is very dedicated towards pursuing her dreams as both an athlete and a student. While determined to succeed in athletics, but she also epitomizes the student in student-athlete. As a biology and African-American Studies double major, Trotter has set major goals for her future.
While it was her mothers dedication to the Matanyas Hope foundation that originally influenced her decision to go to Africa, there is also a major familial tie that influenced her interest in biology and her aspirations to one day become a physician.
I would be a third generation doctor, Trotter explained. Both of my mothers parents were doctors and both of my parents are doctors. In fact, my grandparents met in med school and so did my parents.
Trotter laughs, My parents always joke around and say I am going to meet my special someone in med school some day. Well see about that.
This bookworm and basketball player doesnt have too much time for dating right now. One can imagine that simply being a student majoring in pre-medicine would have a hectic workload. But Trotter, who has to balance studying and basketball, has found that it does takes sacrifices.
Its hard being a pre-med student, Trotter explained. It requires a lot of time and being an athlete requires the same thing. It comes down to what you want to accomplish and what you are willing to do to accomplish those goals. I had two dreams, to play basketball and become a doctor. My schedule is studying, going to practice and games, and studying. When we are on the road, I am studying. Basically, whenever Im not on the basketball court, I am studying.
When asking Trotter about all of the difficult classes she is taking and the hours of basketball a week, the workload and the stress of it all doesnt seem present in her voice. It is obvious that she is doing everything she can to live up to her goals and the sacrifices really dont bother her.
I know what I want to do with my life, Trotter said. If ever I need a break from studying, I turn up my music just to let lose. One thing that I really love to do if I have any extra time is dancing. I love to dance. It gives me a good release and then I can get back to studying. I know that it just comes down to how bad you want it and what youre willing to do to get there. I am willing to do whatever it takes.
Although Trotter is busy with school and basketball, she has continued to stay involved in Matanyas Hope. In fact, she has gotten the Badger womens basketball team involved in her experiences last summer. The team is sponsoring an underprivileged child from Africa through Matanyas Hope this year.
If you are interested in sponsoring a child or want to learn more about the Matanyas Hope organization, please visit MatanyasHope.org .