• Dawson Forcella

Spotlight: Tupua Works Towards Two Master's Degrees

While most student athletes work towards a bachelor’s degree during their playing days, Asi Tupua, a senior football player at Briar Cliff University decided to take a different route. Tupua, in his fifth year of school, is working towards not one, but two master’s degrees during his last season.

Tupua graduated with a bachelor’s degree in digital communications with a minor in photography in the fall of 2020. With athletic eligibility remaining, Tupua decided to pursue a couple of master’s degrees although that wasn’t necessarily the plan all along. He is currently working towards a master’s degree in sports management and a master’s degree in leadership.

“I think the opportunity was just there for me. I was fortunate enough to graduate with my bachelors early and still had a year of football,” Tupua says. “I always wanted to get my master’s, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready to stay in school at that point.”

Pursuing a master’s degree isn’t something that is unheard of, but oftentimes athletes choose an easier path after meeting their undergraduate requirements. BCU Head Football Coach Shane Ladage has seen both sides in his days as a coach.

“A lot of guys choose to go the route of, ‘I’ll add a bunch of easy classes to my undergrad and try to get by that way,” Ladage says.

Tupua, selected as a team captain by his teammates and coaches for the 2021 season, has left a positive impression on those around him. Ladage emphasized how important it is to lead in the classroom and on the field.

“I think you are seeing guys that are older that are captains, and academics are important to them. Not only are those guys good players, but they are good students too,” Ladage says. “Just being able to show our younger guys that those things go hand in hand is really important.”

Earning a bachelor’s degree and now working towards two master’s degrees, Tupua mentioned that he wasn’t always a great student. After coming to BCU he turned things around and is proud of what he has accomplished and what is yet to come.

“To even get my bachelor’s was an amazing feeling, but to get my master’s will probably be the best day of my life,” Tupua says. “It is a culmination of going through those obstacles and hurdles in life. I’ll probably shed some tears when I graduate.”

Tupua credits his parents, May and Niva Tupua, with setting him up to succeed.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents,” Tupua says. “I am so thankful for their support and all that they have done for me.”

The Washington native plans to finish studies for both master’s degrees this academic year and graduate in the spring of 2022.

Photo Credit: Dawson Forcella / Cliff News

Asi Tupua scrolls through his master’s program assignments to see what is on the agenda for the day.

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