Alejandro Perez Canedo never expected to see his country’s flag in the William T. Young Campus Center. A transfer tennis player from Hofstra University, Perez Canedo joined the Transylvania University campus community in August 2022. He initially learned about Transy from his former coach and father figure, Eduardo Aspillaga, who introduced him to Transy’s head men’s tennis coach, Kevin Calhoun. “[Coach Aspillaga] is one of the wisest people I have known,” Perez Canedo said. “If he told me to consider Transy, I knew I should.”
Originally from Bolivia, Perez Canedo came to the United States as a child after his father received a job offer in New York. Reflecting on his initial experience, he said, “I didn’t know how to speak English. Imagine that you’re in a room and it’s silent and people are staring at you. It was like that: I didn’t understand anything.” Over the course of the next several years, Perez Canedo began playing tennis until a back injury at 14 nearly ended his burgeoning career, keeping him off the court until he was 16. “The injury changed my life,” he said. “Sometimes when you lose things, you realize how much you care about them.”
Doctors indicated that he would be unlikely to return to tennis at a high level, but Perez Canedo proved them wrong, playing at both the NCAA Division I and III levels. “I was able to overcome adversity,” he noted, comparing his challenging physical recovery to the challenge of coming to a university in an unfamiliar state. “From the injury, a little seed was planted, which is my dream. Right now, at Transy, I am watering it to see how high it can grow.”
Recently, Perez Canedo was both surprised and deeply moved to see his country’s flag on display in the Campus Center as part of the university’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. “There’s a level of pride that I felt that is very hard to describe,” he mused. “I miss my country, my culture, my people every day.” Noting that representation matters, he added, “I was very touched by this small detail. It made a big impact and goes a long way.” Perez Canedo sent a photo of the flag to his mother, who lives in New York, as well as to his grandmother, who remains in Bolivia.
With plans to major in psychology and minor in exercise science, Perez Canedo has already found his place within the Transy community. “It’s only been two months, and I know I made the right decision,” he said. “I’m extremely happy here.” While he has made friends with many of his tennis teammates, he also noted how easy it has been to meet other students through university clubs and laughingly joked that all of the cafeteria staff know him as well.
While Perez Canedo would like to one day represent Bolivia in the Davis Cup, the premier international team event in men’s tennis, his ultimate goal is even larger: “I want people in my country to also dream big. I want to show my community that all it takes is a dream to go somewhere.”