It is said that college is a time where young adults grow and mature the most out of any other point in their lives. They learn a lot about who they are, what they want to be and how they can achieve their goals.
This is particularly true for Florida State senior Braian Angola, who, like so many other FSU students, has earned the honor of graduating from Florida State University. He will walk in commencement ceremonies with his graduating class on May 5.
“It is an unbelievable feeling to be graduating because of the type of journey that I had to go through,” said Angola.
Angola left his family to come to the United States, play basketball and receive a top-notch education. He has persevered through numerous challenges to arrive at graduation day. And he will be holding his head up high when he walks across the stage to shake President John Thrasher’s hand and receive his college degree.
“Getting a degree from this unbelievable university was my main goal,” Angola said. “I wanted to give that kind of example for my little sisters, so they know that if I can do it, and my mom did it, they can do it too.”
Since becoming a Seminole in 2016, Angola has grown exponentially and continues to impress everyone around him, including Florida State Head Coach Leonard Hamilton.
“Braian has worked very hard to be successful as a teammate and a student-athlete,” said Hamilton. “He has earned his degree, which is a tremendous accomplishment for a young man who spoke very little English when he came to the United States when he was 14-years old.”
Outside of the classroom, Angola showed his growth and maturity by helping the Seminoles to back-to-back NCAA tournaments, including an appearance in the Elite Eight for the first time in 25 years this past March.
“Making it to the NCAA tournament again for that second time and going to the Elite Eight, one minute away from going to the Final Four was an amazing feeling, I can’t even tell you how I felt that day after the game, just so many emotions,” said Angola.
Aside from leading the Seminoles to the Elite Eight, Angola was also a key contributor for the Colombian National Team in the FIBA AmeriCup during the summer of 2017.
“To play with your national team is probably one of the most important things I’ve ever done,” said Angola. “It helped me a lot with the leadership skills that I developed. It was a fantastic experience.”
Going to the NCAA tournament two years in a row and playing for his home country on a national stage were all truly amazing experiences for Angola to have while being a Seminole.
However, the greatest memory for him during his time at Florida State came during his last home game at the Tucker Center, when his mom flew in from Colombia to surprise him on Senior Day.
“That was a crazy moment; the announcer was talking, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying because everybody was clapping and screaming,” Angola said. “And I was like ‘What is going on?’
“And then when I saw my mom, I just couldn’t hold it in and I started crying.”
For those that were in attendance, it was a beautiful, heart-warming moment to witness as 12,000 fans applauded. For Braian and his mother, it will be a moment that they get to cherish forever.
Reflecting on his journey from Colombia to Tallahassee, Angola has learned a lot about himself and others, experiencing many different cultures and aspects of life that most people never get a chance to experience. He has learned many important lessons and characteristics in his travels that he will be able to carry with him for the rest of his life.
“Being kind to people is probably the most important lesson I have learned,” said Angola. “A lot of people have supported me and helped me through this journey. I always want to remember those people that were there with me.”
Looking back at his time here at Florida State, Angola hopes that he has left a legacy that will be remembered for years to come. On the court, he will be remembered as a leader of the team who helped bring the Seminoles to an Elite Eight appearance and back-to-back NCAA tournaments.
Off the court though, Angola says he wants to be remembered for “being a happy person, always smiling and enjoying my time here and having fun at Florida State University.”
“Braian is, and will always be, a very special member of our program,” said Hamilton. “We are all very proud of him and know he will be very successful as a husband, a father and a basketball player.”