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Luck of the Irish: Sasha Seymore starts a new path

UNC 2015 graduate Sasha Seymore played varsity basketball for Carolina his senior year. Now he plays basketball for the Queen’s University Belfast in Ireland. (Courtesy of Sasha Seymore)

UNC 2015 graduate Sasha Seymore played varsity basketball for Carolina his senior year. Now he plays basketball for the Queen’s University Belfast in Ireland. (Courtesy of Sasha Seymore)

Seymore, who graduated in 2015, is studying at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, where he is earning a master’s degree in conflict transformation and social justice.

“It rains a lot here, and that’s no fun, and it’s very difficult to watch Carolina basketball, which is also no fun,” he said. “However, the people in Northern Ireland are just unbelievably friendly, and simply for that alone it’s been a great experience.”

He is studying abroad through the George J. Mitchell Scholarship, which supports one year of postgraduate study at any university in Ireland or Northern Ireland. Out of around 300 students nominated throughout the country, he was one of 12 recipients.

“It’s absolutely been a blessing, and I know I’m very fortunate and very honored,” Seymore said.

Studying in Ireland has given him the chance to pursue his love for travel, which he said has become a defining aspect of his postgraduate life.

He said he has been to Croatia, Italy, Germany and many other places across Europe.

Rachel Green, another Mitchell Scholar at Belfast, is traveling along with him.

“He’s just been a really great, easy-going, go-with-the-flow travel partner,” Green said.

Seymore is no stranger to scholarships. He was a Morehead-Cain Scholar at UNC.

“He is just a very high energy, very positive, very driven individual. He’s someone you want on your team, and you want to be on his team,” said Chuck Lovelace, executive director of the Morehead-Cain Foundation.

At UNC he was senior class president, co-founder of Kicking Across Carolina, president of the Dozen Doughnut Dash and the recipient of the Chi Omega Award in Global Studies.

“He made a difference by the many activities he took a leadership role in, and I think he also was a role model in terms of his positivity and enthusiasm,” Lovelace said.

Seymore played club soccer in addition to playing on the men’s basketball team. After playing junior varsity for two years, he made varsity his senior year.

Six games into the season, Seymore blew out his knee. At that point, he thought he was done with basketball forever.

“It was tough not to start senior night against Duke,” Seymore said. “That had been a dream of mine since I was three or four and dunking on my Space Jam hoop in the backyard.”

His time with basketball was not over.

Seymore said recruiters from the Belfast Star basketball team, part of All Ireland Premier League, took notice when they learned a former UNC player was coming to Ireland and offered him a spot.

“I forgot just how absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to do something you love, especially when you thought you were done with it,” Seymore said.

Seymore is pursuing his love for the game in other ways, too. He is currently working at a sports non-government organization called Peace Players that brings together Catholics and Protestants in the Belfast area through basketball.

“I go and work with the kids and we play basketball, and it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “We do classes and courses outside of the basketball sessions and we talk about understanding and diversity and help to break down barriers.”

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He said he is passionate about working at non-government organizations and plans to be involved with organizations like these in the future.

“I like that he is able to make connections with people through his personal interests and both grow as a person and help the community grow as well,” Green said.

After he gets his degree, he is planning to work with the consulting firm McKinsey & Company in Atlanta. Green said Seymore will excel at whatever job he chooses.

“No matter what, he’s going to push himself to do the best,” she said.