From soccer to public speaking: student Zak McCarthy makes it happen
A passion for soccer may have brought Zak McCarthy to Texas A&M University-Texarkana, but he’s hoping his love for public speaking will take him around the world.
A junior business administration major, Zak came to the U.S. from Hemel Hempstead, a town of about 95,000 north of London in Hertfordshire, England.
After finishing high school, Zak took on his first full-time job as a call center operator for Warner Leisure Hotels. From there, he worked as a site manager for Phoenix Stadium Seating Removal and Installations in London, a waiter at The Grove, a brand ambassador for student loan company Smart-Pig.com and an email consultant for online fashion marketplace ASOS.com.
“I’ve always been involved in sports and soccer,” he said, adding that he attended various professional academies and played on the number one club team in the county.
“When I was 16, I decided I wanted to move to the U.S. and play soccer at a higher level,” he said. “I had two soccer scholarship offers in New York, but I ultimately accepted an offer at Feather River College in Quincy, California. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Zak described his time in California as “the craziest experience.”
“Quincy is a small town of about 5,000. It’s about an hour and a half from Reno, Nevada,” he said. “I moved there on my own at 17 and had no family or friends in the U.S., so I learned how to do things myself.”
During breaks, Zak traveled throughout over California, attending festivals and events.
“I traveled to Los Angeles and San Francisco. I met so many great people. I definitely want to return to California after I graduate.”
While at FRC, he also furthered his interests in public speaking and acting.
“Public speaking, acting and dancing come naturally to me. They energize me,” he said. “I even won a local ‘Dancing with the Stars’ competition at FRC.”
Zak remained at the community college for two years, ultimately earning his associate degree in general studies.
“I knew I wanted to continue playing soccer and studying, so I accepted an offer to transfer here. A&M-Texarkana is great. It’s an A&M school, the soccer program is new, and the people are fantastic,” he said.
McCarthy is living proof that a student-athlete can juggle a busy school and practice schedule.
“I wake up by 7 every morning – 5:30 on Wednesdays, and I don’t get home until late – around 9 or 10 at night,” he said. “With 15 credit hours of schoolwork, studying, soccer practice, working 19 hours a week as an Eagle Guide and managing my own website, I don’t have a lot of spare time.”
Zak also is involved in the Radiant young adult ministry, where he serves as an emcee, and he and his friends are working to start a new fraternity on campus.
Zak regularly conducts radio interviews and serves as the opening speaker for Eagle Open House events at the university. Most recently, he served as a speaker at the first-ever Scholars banquet in Texarkana.
“Zak is a motivated and focused student,” Director of Admissions Toney Favors said. “He loves helping students succeed. He is definitely an asset to the Eagle Guides team and university.”
Functional Analyst for Admissions and Recruitment Darryl Kennedy agreed.
“As an Eagle Guide and part of the tour team, Zak is always ready to bring ENERGY to everything we do,” Kennedy said.
“Being an Eagle Guide has given me so many opportunities and exposure that I am so grateful for,” said Zak. “Both Darryl and Toney have been very supportive, and the Eagle Guide team is amazing. We really do some great things as Eagle Guides. The opportunities they have given me are amazing. I cannot thank them all enough!”
After graduating from A&M-Texarkana, Zak plans to continue playing soccer and to pursue a career in public speaking.
“I want to stay in the states. I want to see where soccer takes me, and I want to get a green card and possibly move back to California,” he said. “I love what I’m doing, and I love doing it here. I also want to continue to travel and see the world. Hopefully, public speaking will continue to open some doors for me.”
For more information about Zak, visit his website at http://zakmccarthy.wixsite.com/speak.
To view his presentation at the Scholars banquet, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gK6XjcwDNJU.