A perfect blend of academic excellence and athletic support made UW-Milwaukee Benjamin Cadel’s first choice when he was searching for a university in the United States.
Cadel came to Milwaukee from Paris, France in 2017 to join the men’s swimming and diving team, one of UWM’s 15 NCAA Division I athletic teams. He did not see UWM’s campus until he arrived for his first week of classes.
“Sometimes it felt like a movie because I was in such a good atmosphere and environment on the athletic side and with my classes,” he said. “It was beautiful because the weather was so good, the campus was super nice and I just wasn’t expecting it.”
His transition to the United States was made easier because Cadel was one of three international students who joined the swim team for the 2017-18 season. There are currently more than 1,200 total international students at UWM.
“At the beginning, the thing that helped a lot was my teammates,” Cadel said. “We spent a lot of time together because they were also coming in from Egypt. We discovered a lot of things together.”
Cadel said he was immediately impressed by the athletic infrastructure at UWM, from the pool to the athletic staff and coaches.
“If I had an injury or something, someone would take care of it and I had never had anything like this even though I was on one of the best teams in France,” he said. “I definitely felt this huge difference in the sports culture and so as an athlete it’s a relief because you know everything is in place to help you do your best and perform.”
Although Cadel’s coaches took his athletic performance seriously, there was an even greater emphasis placed on his academic success. Cadel graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the College of Letters and Science.
“They pushed me to be the best student,” he said. “You have meetings every week to talk about your grades, how you’re doing in classes and whether they’re good options for you.
“They want you to be the best athlete, but they also want you to be the best student and that’s good because that was my priority.”
Cadel also credited UWM’s faculty for being patient with him and making him feel comfortable despite his limited English skills when he first started classes.
Although Cadel decided he wanted to study in the United States years before he ever set foot on UWM’s campus, he admits he was nervous when the time finally came to make the trip. But he now looks at his time at UWM as the best experience of his life.
He encourages other students who may be worried about studying at UWM to take the chance.
“I didn’t know if I would be friends with anyone, or if I would just be here for one year, go back (to France) and be done,” he said. “But after these three years I’m sure I have found friends for life.
“When I go back to France, whenever anyone from the team wants to visit, I will be happy to host them.”