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UNF student-athlete sets sights on career in biomedicine

University of North Florida student Zara Siassi is a goal setting star on and off the soccer field.
Zara Siassi graduation photo standing on soccer field with hat, tassels and soccer ballThe 21-year-old, West Palm Beach native, who is a stand-out soccer player on the UNF women’s team, graduated from UNF last summer with her bachelor’s in exercise science and a minor in leadership. Currently, she’s pursuing a post baccalaureate in biomedical sciences and has her eyes set on a career in the medical field.
She says her love of soccer and her desire to help others is a blending of both passions — soccer and science.
“I feel like I have the best of both worlds,” Siassi said. “I chose a major that keeps me active in athletics and offers me the opportunity to help others, while opening doors for me in various fields, professionally.”
A longtime scholar athlete, Siassi had several options to choose from when scouting for universities and colleges but said UNF stood out among the rest. 
“I wanted to continue playing soccer for a team where the coaches believed in the players, but I also wanted a university where I could count on the academics,” explained Siassi. “I had a good vibe when I first visited UNF and knew I could excel here both academically and athletically.”
A recipient of UNF’s Presidential Scholarship as well as student-athlete endowed scholarship, Siassi was enrolled in the Hicks Honors College as an undergrad. As captain of the UNF Women’s Soccer team for the past three years, she admits the rigors of managing an honors schedule along with athletics was challenging, but on-campus resources like Supplemental Instruction proved to be helpful.
UNF student Zara Siassi posing with a soccer ball in her right hand“Playing a sport and managing classes has its challenges,” explained Siassi. “While all of my professors were available to me and attentive, there were times when I needed extra strengthening and study guidance and sought out resources like Supplemental Instruction.”
In addition to taking advantage of on-campus study reinforcement, Siassi participated in an internship with a physical therapy clinic last summer and said the hands-on learning experience outside the classroom, proved to be very beneficial.
“When you’re taking classes — studying, taking notes and tests, you don’t realize that what you’re learning in the classroom pays off until you’re doing it in the real world like with an internship,” Siassi said. “Yes, I’m taking tests and maintaining good grades in the academic setting, but then it’s translating that knowledge in a work environment. I felt confident in my abilities.”
When she’s not playing soccer for UNF or studying for classes, Siassi likes to say she’s fulfilling another passion and paying it forward.
“I’ve been coaching and training a coed soccer team of 4- and 5-year-olds through the Jacksonville Football Club for the past four years and I love it,” Siassi said. “I started playing soccer at age 5 and remember the coaches who influenced and shaped me along the way, from pushing me out of my comfort zone to helping me turn a corner in my journey as an overall athlete. That’s why I love coaching these kids — it’s a very rewarding experience.”
Name: Zara Siassi
Class and major: Post baccalaureate pursuing a biomedical sciences degree
Favorite class: Exercise physiology labs
Dream job: Sports orthopedics
Favorite place on campus: Soccer field
Favorite hobby: Playing soccer
Proud moment: “Scoring my first collegiate goal during the 2022 season. We were down 1-0 and the goal I scored was a header off a set piece that helped us tie the game which we won 3-1. It was a cool moment for me to go back and watch on video because it captured taking a physical risk to get us a goal followed by a joyous celebration with my teammates.”