Achilike grows into scholar-athlete
March 30, 2010
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
AUSTIN, Texas -- Saviour Achilike came to The University of Texas wanting to simply be a student, and work his way toward medical school.
Four years later, Achilike has accomplished that goal -- he's been accepted to The University of Texas Medical School at Houston -- but he's also become a lot more along the way. Achilike is also a Men's Track and Field student-athlete and a campus leader.
This year, the UT campus hosted the Big 12 Conference on Black Student Government. Achilike served as chair of the 33-year-old event that tackles social justice issues and leadership issues.
"Stuff that students experience every day," Achilike says.
Originally formed in 1977, during the days of the Big Eight Conference, it was an organization that fought for minority housing and books.
"Now, it's about how to succeed in class, and yet still get the full experience of college life," Achilike says. "We wanted people to just be inspired. It means a lot when you can impact people's lives."
This year's event attracted more than 800 students from 56 schools across the country, and featured speakers and presenters from corporate and professional life, as well as evening fashion shows.
"This conference was one of the best experiences of my life," said attendee Jevon Oliver. "I learned so much from each of the workshops and the speakers. I truly feel like I am a better person because of it, and that I will be able to have a greater impact on my campus community."
After lettering in both track and soccer at Garland High School, Achilike initially competed for the intramural track team at UT, but was encouraged by friends to tryout as a walk-on for the Texas Men's Track and Field team.
"And the next thing you know coach Bubba Thornton gave me a shot," Achilike said.
Last year was his first of competition, and Achilike ran a personal-best time in the 400-meter hurdles at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays. He expects to make his 2010 debut again at the historic outdoor track meet, which begins on Wednesday, March 31.
"This year I want to do a little bit more. I want to see how good I can get, and how far I can go," Achilike says. "When I get opportunities, like at Texas Relays, I want to perform."
Walking on to the track team has given Achilike a different appreciation for the athletic demands in a college setting like UT, as well as the academic expectations.
"It's been hard, but I've had a great experience," Achilike says. "As an athlete, I understand now how hard they work. You're always sleepy because there's always practice. Always sore. It's hard to study.
"Student and student-athlete worlds are two different things. I think I have the best of both worlds."