Congratulations to Janet Garcia Borbon who graduated in December with more than just a degree in kinesiology. She is a first-generation college graduate, a DACA recipient, the #1 ranked Muay Thai fighter in the United States, and a study abroad alumnae of the business-focused faculty-led program in Germany in summer 2022. Prior to leaving for Germany for her study abroad experience, Janet represented the United States at the World Games in Alabama earning a bronze medal.
What’s your story?
Hi, my name is Janet Garcia Borbon. As a first-generation graduate and DACA recipient, I am proud to have achieved so much in my life. I am proud to have achieved so much in my life. Born in Mexico, I have called San Jose, California my home since I was nine years old. In addition to my academic pursuits, I am also a skilled Muay Thai fighter and currently hold the #1 rank in the 48 kg weight class in the USA. Recently, I had the privilege of representing the USA at the World Games and brought home a bronze medal. I am grateful for all of the opportunities that have come my way and am excited to see what the future holds.
Why did you want to study abroad?
I have always been fascinated by the idea of studying abroad and experiencing life in a different part of the world. Growing up, I never had the opportunity to travel outside of my home continent and this seemed like the perfect chance for me to step out of my comfort zone and explore a new culture. I am eager to see how people in other parts of the world live and experience life, and I believe that studying abroad will be a valuable and enriching opportunity for me.
What was your experience abroad in Germany?
My experience in Germany has been wonderful. I have had the opportunity to learn about a new culture and meet a diverse group of people. I have gained valuable insights into how business is conducted in Germany and how people view the world. I have also had the chance to try new and delicious foods and engage in meaningful conversations with locals. While the Germans may not be as outwardly friendly as Americans, they are extremely helpful and willing to assist whenever needed. Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Germany and would love the chance to return in the future.
What is The World Games?
The World Games are an international multi-sport event comprising sports and sporting disciplines that are not contested in the Olympic Games. They are usually held every four years, one year after a Summer Olympic Games, over the course of 11 days.
About 3,600 elite athletes from over 100 countries compete for gold in more than 30 of the fastest growing sports in the world. The first ever World Games took place in 1981 in Santa Clara, CA.
Tell us about your journey and experience at The World Games?
My journey to the World Games began five years ago when I learned that my sport, Muay Thai, would be included in the games. I made the decision then and there that I would do whatever it took to represent the United States in the World Games. It was fortuitous that the next World Games would be held in Birmingham, Alabama. I spoke with my coach and told him that I wanted to be the best in the country. We worked hard for the next five years, competing against fighters from all over the country and climbing the ranks. Eventually, I won the USA qualifiers, securing my spot on the team and my #1 rank in the USA.
When I arrived at the Games, it was like a dream come true. I had worked so hard for this moment and it was finally here. I took in every moment, making sure to be present and savor the experience. The highlight of the tournament for me was when they called out “Representing the United States of America” and my name. That was when it all hit me: an immigrant child representing the USA. I never thought I would get the opportunity to hear those words and I was overwhelmed with joy. I wanted to cry, smile, and hug my mom to tell her that we had done it. But I had to put on a good poker face and get to work. As I entered the ring, I put all my feelings aside and fought with all my heart. After winning my first match, the crowd started cheering again, “USA! USA!” and all those emotions came rushing back. I hugged my coach and tears rolled down my cheeks.
Although I didn’t win the gold, earning a bronze medal was still a huge accomplishment for me. It was one of the best times of my life and I will always hold that moment dear to my heart.
What does it mean for you as a Spartan to be selected to represent the US in The World Games?
This experience has shown me that anything is possible if I set my mind to it. Being both a student and a top athlete can be challenging, but I have had great professors and counselors who have helped me along the way. Whenever I needed help from my teachers, they were always willing to provide it. They recognized the demands of my athletic career and did their best to help me balance my schoolwork. This has taught me that with determination and support, I can achieve anything.”
Any advice to Spartans?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There are many resources available to make your college experience easier. I wish I had known this when I first started college, but now you do. Talk to your professors or counselors for guidance and they will point you in the right direction. Remember, you don’t have to go through this journey alone.
NOTE from the Study Abroad & Away office:
If you wish to support future DACA students to take advantage of our global experiences at SJSU, please consider donating to the Dr. Ruth Huard Study Abroad Scholarship which aims to help fund DACA students with their Advance Parole process.