Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor
USC athletes are more than just champions on the field, court, diamond, and pool, they're champions in the classroom as well. Each week, we will get to know one of these scholarly Trojans a little better in our student-athlete spotlight.
Name: Flora Bolonyai
Sport: Women's Water Polo
Major: Economics and Mathematics
Sarah Bergstrom (SB): How did you first find out about USC and how did you come to play water polo here?
Flora Bolonyai (FB): When I was a senior in high school I knew that it was my goal to train in the United States and play water polo there. USC was one of my first choices actually, because my cousin went there. So I had already heard of the school and USC also needed a goalie for the next year. It was perfect.
SB: How was it adapting that first year to living in the U.S. and being so far from home?
FB: I think it was just hard to be far from home and far from my family and friends. That's still hard sometimes. But I also came to a beautiful place and USC is an amazing school. The campus is beautiful with the fountains and gardens and the weather is never cold. I was accepted by my team from the first moment and their support made it easier.
SB: What made you decide to study economics and mathematics? That sounds like a tough major to balance with water polo.
FB: I have always liked math. I also knew that I was going to need to spend a lot of my focus on water polo so I didn't want to overwhelm myself just doing pure math. I decided to mix math with something else. At USC you have the option to mix math with economics so I thought that was a good choice.
SB: That's funny that you think combining math and economics allows you to focus on water polo more because when I think about majoring in something like that I assume it would be a ton of work. Has it been difficult to balance that major with water polo?
FB: It's challenging but you know, if you manage your time and plan accordingly then I think it's definitely manageable.
SB: Do you know what you might want to do one day when your water polo career is over with that math and economics background?
FB: I am potentially thinking of going to grad school eventually to get my Master's degree in financial math to become either a statistician or something like that. But those are vague plans (laughs) I'm still not very sure.
SB: So I've heard that you're interested in traveling a lot after you graduate. You have already traveled quite a bit for water polo. Where are some places you would like to visit that you haven't been to yet?
FB: I really want to go to Australia, I've never been there before. I also want to go to South America. But I don't want to go to play water polo. I just want to travel and see what's out there.
SB: Speaking of traveling, you had your first Olympic experience in 2012 in London. What was that like and what were some of the things you learned from your time with the Olympic team?
FB: I didn't quite realize how few people get to experience that until I was there. Those are the only 10,000 people from the entire world, out of seven billion people, who get to be a part of the Olympics. I wish we had medaled. Finishing fourth is a tough memory to have. But being there and experiencing the atmosphere is something I'll never forget. I'm glad I got to go then because now I know what to expect in the next Olympics. Being there, representing my country, is something that I can be very proud of. Knowing that your entire country is cheering for you is something that is so special.
SB: What does it mean to you to be a USC athlete and a part of the Trojan Family?
FB: I think it's similar to being a member of my national team and representing my country when I play for them. That's how I feel when I play for USC. I'm representing the Trojan Family and my school. It's become a big part of my identity.
SB: What has it meant to you to get to be a part of this USC program, especially considering the success you've had recently?
FB: I think it was one of the best decisions I've ever made when I decided four years ago to come to USC. I have learned so much from being a student-athlete. I learned how to manage time, I learned how to work on a team, and I learned how to handle criticism. I have improved a lot as a person and as a water polo player too. I'm so grateful I had this opportunity. I'm just trying to get the most out of my last season and the time I've had here.