Chuks Iroegbu: Student Athlete Lessons for Life
By Chukwuemeka Iroegbu \\\ College Basketball student- athlete
What's good y'all!?!
My name is Chukwuemeka (Chuks) Iroegbu and I recently graduated from Northern Illinois University after also attending City College of San Francisco and Washington State University. College basketball has taken me to a lot of different places around the country. During my college tenure I went from a preferred walk-on at Washington State, to a junior college athlete at CCSF, to finally earning a full athletic scholarship at Northern Illinois. Through my five years of college I was only on scholarship during the last two years and the circumstances of those first three years helped me become more financially responsible through my college years.
During my first year of college at Washington State University, I was a preferred walk-on for the basketball team, which meant I didn't have to earn my spot but I still had to pay my way through school. Coming out of high school, I was a good player but I still had some deficiencies in my game that I needed to work on before I could earn a scholarship. By the grace of God, my parents helped me pay for tuition and a meal plan so that I could just focus on school and basketball.
Even with this help from my parents, managing my money was difficult at times. If I wanted to eat out of the dining hall or go to the mall and buy some new clothes I would have to be mindful on how much money I spent because I hated asking my parents for more money. It was embarrassing because they were already paying for so much and this would add on to their expenses. I didn’t qualify for any financial aid either, which would have helped my situation a lot. My parents gave me around fifty dollars a week of pocket money, so I had to make do with that and be really mindful on how I spent it.
My next two years of college were spent at City College of San Francisco. After my freshman year at Washington State I felt that I was improving in basketball at an impressive rate and wanted the opportunity to earn a scholarship and be able to be an important part of a team. That opportunity wasn't going to be at Washington State so I decided to go to the junior college level where I could continue to develop my game. Colleges recruit junior college players because they are more developed than high school players and can make an immediate impact. This situation was also financially better than Washington State because I would still be able to take college level courses, but at a less expensive rate and wouldn't have to be paying the ridiculous out of state fees.
The school fees were cheaper but rent for my apartment was a lot. I lived in a 2 bedroom apartment with 4 of my other teammates. We each paid $550 a month for rent, $25 for the water bill, and another $25 for the electricity bill. To get around the city we all took the either the bus which was $2 each way, and then we had to get on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) that took us to school which was $3 each way. For some odd reason, my parents calculated that $15 a week would feed me and transport me to the places I needed to go. After two weeks in San Francisco, I realized that I needed to cut my costs in some places or all my money would dry up. My parents gave me $210 to budget every two weeks so it was tricky at times determining how to save money, but I was able to get it done.
My last two years of college were spent at Northern Illinois University which is located in DeKalb, Illinois. Fortunately, I had improved my skills to where NIU offered me a full athletic scholarship. All of my school fees were paid by the university and athletes also received a stipend check of $1000 if you lived off campus. That number varies from school to school depending on how much the school is able to provide and the area the school is in. Additionally, starting my senior year we received a cost of attendance check of $350 per month. On top of that, every semester we would get 30 meals from the dining hall.
After what I had been through in my first three years of school, managing this amount of money was easy. The first thing I would do would be to pay off all my bills in the beginning of the month so I wouldn't forget or worry about them pilling up. All my bills came out to around $500 which included rent, water, electricity and gas. I would be left with around $800 a month so I would try to take $300 and put it in my savings account. My parents suggested that I start saving up some money because they knew that sometime in the future I would need it. For the most part, it worked out and I was able to put away some money each month, except for times when unexpected costs came up.
I believe that my college years set me up to become a financially stable adult. There were times in my first 3 years where I would be super low on money so it taught me how to work with what I had to make sure I could eat and live. I am grateful that I had my parents to guide me and teach me how to manage and save money. Throughout college I've had a bunch of teammates who qualified for financial aid. They would sometimes receive up to $3000 a semester in some instances, but because they didn't have the proper guidance, they would blow their money on meaningless things. I envied them at times but receiving that check means that your family isn't financially stable. I had the option of calling home and asking for some extra money, where those guys didn't have that option.
In some cases my teammates would send that money back to their families and would try to make do with the money that they received from their scholarship check. Being a college athlete, you are able to see that while athletes are still not properly compensated for their service to their schools, we are still able to make do with what we receive.
After starting late in competitive organized sports, Chuks quickly developed a love for basketball. Through his love and gifted abilities he featured prominently for the famed AAU basketball team, the Oakland Soldiers. His college career although well traveled was very successful and now Chuks Iroegbu is currently pursuing basketball opportunities overseas.