Most young Australian and New Zealand students view the US college pathway as a straightforward sport and education opportunity.

But for Brittanny Macnab, embracing the opportunity to absorb a US college pathway has played an integral part in the person she is today.

“I was extremely introverted at home, I actually failed a class because I didn’t talk, and now I’m probably the most outgoing person on my team…I’ve done a complete 180. Best thing I’ve ever done,” Brittanny noted.

College here is more geared towards making you a better person and not just a student. It’s a holistic thing.”

As a WA hockey athlete, Brittanny attended Curtin University for two years before broadening her horizons and choosing to attend college in the US, where she valued the option to combine her love of sport and a prestigious education pathway.

“I felt like in Australia we don’t really have college sports and I didn’t have to choose between my sport and school, which ultimately I felt like I had to do at some point in Australia.

I couldn’t pass up this opportunity, I felt like I had to go. There was something telling me I had to do this,” Brittanny reflected.

Brittanny has grown up in a sport-orientated family and always wanted to include hockey in her future, she just didn’t know how.

Now at Bellarmine University in Kentucky, Brittanny carries the prestigious title of being a collegiate hockey student-athlete, one she wears proudly.

Brittanny wholeheartedly agrees with the common perception that student-athletes are treated with the upmost respect in US colleges, and given every opportunity to succeed.

“For student athletes, they really like to help if they think you’re struggling or if you’re new… they like to help you keep on top of it because we have to manage our time so much better. They really emphasise that, it’s really easy to find help,” Brittanny said.

Not only does the goalkeeper reflect on how her experience as a Knight has helped develop personally, she also acknowledges the improvement in her academics, just under a year into her potential four-year journey.

“I’ve always been a good student but it has pushed me to be the best I can be. I’m getting great marks because I have to do well to maintain a certain level of academic standing. It’s easy to do because there’s so much available to me.

It has motivated me to do better. I’m getting grades way better than what I was getting at home,” Brittanny noted.

The young athlete has benefited immensely personally and academically from her decision to become a college student, and she notes how this has assisted her on-field performance with her hockey.

“With my sport, I have become more of a leader because I’m more confident in myself. I’ve learnt a new style of playing and learnt to communicate more effectively,” she said.

The family-like environment Brittanny has established with not only her teammates, but her classmates and her coach has helped the introverted student feel at home in America. Although college in the US provided challenges for her in the beginning, Brittanny admits she wouldn’t have had her experience unfold any other way.

“Saying yes to something that makes you uncomfortable is a good thing!” Brittanny said with her newfound confidence.

With a rewarding, long-term college career still ahead of her, Brittanny has plenty of plans developing in her mind in order to get the very best out of her college experience at Bellarmine University.

“I will be looking into travelling and maybe coaching a little bit so I can share what I’ve learnt with other people.”

I never thought I’d be so lucky, and be in the position where I could have the best of everything and not have to compromise. It’s incredible. I have to pinch myself sometimes and realise this is actually my life,” Brittany reflected.