Newman alumnus Kevin Mangayi recently celebrated a major change in his life — becoming a U.S. citizen.
Mangayi has played the roles of both student and staff at Newman University. His current role is part-time staff at the Newman University Bookstore, but one of his favorite roles was that of a student-athlete, during which time he said he "met some great people and made some lifelong friends."
Soccer has been a part of Mangayi's life since the age of 5. He was born and raised in Zimbabwe, and played soccer for a semi-pro team in his home town of Bulawayo. He moved to South Africa in 1995, but just four years later, he would begin his journey in America to pursue higher education.
During his time as a soccer player at Newman, he was named MCAC (Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference) Scholar Athlete for three years in a row and he was part of several conference and regional championship teams including a final eight spot at the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) National Championships.
"As is with most international students," he explained, "we all pursue education first and typically we weigh the options of either going back home or pursuing a better life here. When I graduated (with an MBA) in 2006, the economy back home was not doing so great, unemployment was high and I felt I was better off staying here."
His official citizenship process began in 2008 and obtained his green card in 2009. He said his path to citizenship did not come without trials.
"There are a lot of challenges we encounter during the process," said Mangayi. "The biggest being not being able to travel out of the country for around 30 months while everything is ongoing, being restricted in terms of hours you can work and also not being able to see family."
Even though being away from family is hard, support from the sidelines is something he does not lack.
"Throughout this process my brother and sister-in-law, my soccer family and close friends have cheered me on during this time and have made me feel at home here."
Mangayi said on the day he took his oath on Friday, July 28, he felt a sense of joy and relief at the same time. Joy because of what he had accomplished and that could travel the world again, and relief that the long process was finally complete. He is hoping his brother can soon be a citizen as well.
"Hopefully I can petition for my brother to become a citizen and then he can experience it as well."
His love for soccer has not faded. Mangayi currently runs his own soccer club team, the FC ROAR, and is the men's soccer assistant coach at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas.
He said his experience at Newman has been and still is a positive one.
"Newman University has been good to me since the day I arrived. I have been treated well by everyone I've encountered during my time here as a student as well as a staff member and hope to continue making a difference in society as per our mission."