Calix Black Ndiaye is Senior Wealth Manager at Danske Bank in Bergen. Some will recognize him as one of Norway’s top basketball players. He played for Ulriken and Frøya, and was also captain of the Norwegian national team for several years. Calix managed to play basketball at a high level while preparing for his successful career in banking by being a student-athlete in the United States, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance from University of Wisconsin – Green Bay (UWGB), and a MBA in finance from Barry University.
You went to the UWGB on a basketball scholarship. (PDF 2.4 MB- Get Adobe Reader) Can you tell us about the process of getting that?
I was fortunate enough to go to the basketball camp at UWGB at the age of 15. Since then, the coaching team kept in touch with the aim of recruiting me. The head assistant coach made numeral trips to Norway to follow my progress and get to know my family. It was a long process over several years that fortunately led to me getting a full scholarship.
“To my knowledge, there are not any other places in the world where the combination of sports and academics are facilitated in this manner.”
Were there other reasons than basketball that made you want to study in the U.S. and at UWGB specifically?
I believed and still believe that for athletes who want to pursue higher education while playing the sport they love at a high level, the U.S. is the best place to be. To my knowledge, there are not any other places in the world where the combination of sports and academics are facilitated in this manner. I remember having a hard time in high school in Norway since I had to travel with our basketball team almost weekly, and if I missed a test due to an away game, that was my loss. In the U.S. on the other hand, there was an understanding and a commitment from the school to help their student-athletes. If we were on the road for a week, we would normally have tutors with us, so we didn’t fall behind in classes.
Being a student-athlete can be tough. How did you cope with the rigorous schedule of combining basketball, schoolwork AND a social life?
It is all about priorities. It was a great time in my life, but the social life had to suffer during basketball season.
After getting you bachelor’s degree, you decided to stay in the U.S. to get a master’s. Why did you decide to stay in the U.S. rather than go back to Norway? After all, there’s a great business school in your hometown of Bergen…
That was also because I was given the opportunity to play basketball while being a student.
What are your best memories from your time in the U.S.?
1. Getting my degrees
2. Going to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history with Barry University.
3. All the great friends I made
What were the greatest challenges?
American culture is very different from Norway’s, so learning to cope with the cultural differences was a big challenge. In the U.S., especially as an athlete, you’re expected to deliver the goods and perform. You’re also expected to be outgoing and express who you are. That’s something I wasn’t used to from home.
Aside from the academic aspect, in what ways (if any) would you say that studying in the U.S. has been a benefit to you professionally?
It improved my understanding of other cultures, improved my English skills, and helped me to become more outspoken and adjustable to different environments and cultures.
“American universities are some of the best in the world, and also have great extracurricular activities, not just sports.”
Would you recommend other Norwegians to study in U.S.?
It was a great experience for me, and I have advised my younger brother and two younger sisters to do the same, which they have. My brother Bouna went to Northwestern Nazarene University in Idaho, also playing basketball, while my sister Amy studied acting at American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. Given the U.S.’s importance as a country, politically, economically and culturally, I believe it is vital to understand and learn how things are done in the US. American universities are some of the best in the world, and also have great extracurricular activities, not just sports. Lastly, the U.S. is a great country to live in. Things like customer service and infrastructure are excellent.
More information about education opportunities in the Unites States here.
More USA Student stories here.