College of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies Valedictorian

“Reflecting on My Journey at Life University: A Bittersweet Farewell”

As Matteo Olivotto approaches his final weeks at Life University (Life U), he finds himself filled with a mix of emotions. Hailing from a small town just an hour away from Venice, Italy, Olivotto embarked on this incredible journey with the dream of experiencing the American lifestyle and living the American dream. Since childhood, this dream was so vivid that even his mom could attest to her son’s long-standing desire.

A Dream Realized Amidst a Global Pandemic

The opportunity to study in the United States came during the COVID-19 pandemic. Olivotto was approached by an agency that assists athletes in securing scholarships in the U.S., allowing them to pursue both their academic and athletic ambitions. As a soccer player, this was a golden opportunity.

“I soon found myself in contact with Coach Pama, whose enthusiasm and the university’s offerings made my decision an easy one,” said Olivotto. “Within minutes of receiving my offer, I accepted to join Life University where I would pursue a degree in Exercise Science.”

Embracing a New Environment

Moving to a new country and adapting to a different culture was challenging, especially with the language barrier.

“Though I had a good grasp of English, I wasn’t accustomed to using it all day. My teammates, who were also international students, played a crucial role in helping me adjust,” said Olivotto.

Together, they formed a tight-knit community, becoming each other’s family away from home. Living in The Commons further facilitated Olivotto’s integration, enabling him to build relationships beyond the soccer field.

Personal Growth and Academic Pursuits

“My journey at Life University has been transformative. Despite my introverted nature, I found my place here, making lifelong friends and even meeting my girlfriend, a former basketball player from Spain,” shared Olivotto.

The campus environment, with its close-knit community and supportive atmosphere, helped him thrive both academically and socially. And Olivotto’s major in Exercise Science has fueled his passion for becoming a strength and conditioning coach, focusing on athlete development and injury prevention.

Looking Ahead: Future Aspirations

As Olivotto prepares to graduate, his plans are set on returning home to Italy. His primary goal is to become a professional soccer player. Simultaneously, he aims to earn his Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification to pursue a career as a strength and conditioning coach. The certification is recognized internationally, allowing him to practice in various countries, including Italy.

“With the support of my former coach, who is acting as my agent, I am optimistic about finding the right team and city to continue my journey,” said Olivotto.

Building a Legacy: The International Students Organization

During his time at Life University, Olivotto co-founded the International Students Organization. Their aim is to create a welcoming environment for international students, helping them settle in and feel at home. This initiative reflects the university’s foundational value Lasting Purpose, and he is proud to contribute to it.

A Grateful Farewell

As Olivotto’s time at Life U draws to a close, he is filled with gratitude for the experiences and opportunities he’s had here. The support from his family, who will be attending graduation, has been unwavering. Life U has been a pivotal chapter in Olivotto’s life, and while it is bittersweet to leave, he is excited for what the future holds.

Words of Advice for Future Students

“To prospective students, I urge you to seize every opportunity, step out of your comfort zone and embrace new experiences. Life University offers a nurturing environment where you can forge strong bonds and achieve your goals. Whether you are pursuing a business major, the D.C. program or exercise science, success is within your reach if you are willing to take risks and persevere,” shared Olivotto.

For more information regarding Life U’s undergraduate programs, visit to see all that Life U has to offer!