Following their son Zack’s selection to Arkansas University on a rugby scholarship with FirstPoint USA, his parents Steve and Sarah Beazley open up about how Zack is embracing life in the US and how making the move to study stateside was the best decision he’s ever made.
Zack has been playing rugby since he was 8 and has been a member of several teams in the UK including his home club Ipswich YM Rugby, Suffolk County, Eastern Counties and Northampton Saints Academy. After his GCSE’s he wasn’t keen on A levels and considered going in the army but wasn’t 100% sure what to do. He enrolled on a BTEC course at college, but his heart was never really in it. It was while browsing Facebook that he came across FirstPoint and he was immediately interested in its sports and academic scholarships in the USA.
Steve Beazley says: “When Zack first told me about FirstPoint he was really excited at the thought of studying in the USA. I then visited FirstPoint’s website and thought it sounded interesting and that studying in the states would be an amazing opportunity for Zack – one that was too good to pass by. I then did a bit of research on FirstPoint and I was pleased to find out that it was an accredited agency with a long-standing track record of success. It all looked pretty good”.
Zack’s parents then investigated collegiate sport in the US and how the two scholarships – full or partial – with FirstPoint worked. They read information on the process, from initial university selection through to support and costs and what rugby scholarships were available. Zack was also doing his own research and even in the early stages he was keen on Arkansas as it is one of the top 6 rugby universities in the states.
Sarah Beazley says: “We initially didn’t know if Zack would receive a full scholarship, but we could see that the opportunities in the states for him were second to none. We were a little apprehensive at first as he was only 17 and the states is so far away but his heart was set on going and we fully supported him”.
The family then contacted FirstPoint and arranged to go to Scotland for Zack to attend a rugby scholarship assessment day and as soon as Zack was approved for the scholarship process, he gave up his college course in the UK.
Sarah says: “We were supported throughout the whole process by FirstPoint and at our first meeting we met with Brendan McGroarty, Head of Clearing who was extremely helpful and put us totally at ease. We had a lot of questions from day-to-day student life to what happens with insurance in case of a sports injury and Brendan answered them all straight away and we felt totally comfortable.”
Steve agrees: “FirstPoint’s staff communicated with us fully and the whole process from start to finish was very smooth – we had no issues at all”.
Arkansas was chosen as the university for Zack to study criminology for his degree and once he agreed to join its Red Wolves team, the coach Blake White put him in touch with other members of the squad via WhatsApp. This enabled Zack to feel part of the team before he arrived in the states and make friends with other students from the UK.
Steve says: Sarah and I went along to Zack’s first training session at Arkansas and we couldn’t believe how friendly and welcoming everyone was, from the coaches to the students. It was a lovely experience to see the training first-hand and be part of the experience. Zack is extremely happy and says the training facilities at Arkansas are on a par with Northampton Saints”.
Sarah says: “Zack is living a completely different lifestyle to what he would have had in the UK. He is travelling a huge amount both on his own and with his team, playing rugby at top level and gaining a great degree. Zack has totally fallen on his feet and tells us he couldn’t be happier – which is something every parent wants to hear. Zack loves it so much he will be staying in the states over the summer holidays to work at a summer camp in Pennsylvania as a sailing instructor”.
Steve concludes: “We would totally recommend FirstPoint and its scholarship programme to anyone as cost-wise with the reduction in the fees, it’s no different to the costs of studying at a university in the UK, but the opportunities and experiences are boundless”.
This post was tagged in: rugby scholarship, sports scholarship, arkansas state university, firstpointfamily, zack beazley, akansas, arkansas university, ipswich ym rugby, northampton saints academy, eastern counties, suffolk county, steve beazley, sarah beazley, a parents view, collegiate sport, top 6 rugby universities, brendan mcgroarty, criminology, red wolves team, blake white