True Colors

Jan. 21, 2014

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By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. ( - Most would write it off as a simple accessory or something to keep the hair out of her face.

But to those who know her better, Sara Djassi's collection of colorful bandanas represent more. They are a reflection of her personality. Perhaps more importantly, each is a piece of where she comes from and who she is.

Yellow, her mother Perpetua's favorite color, is for when she's happy. Red for when she's mad. Her brother Taimo's favorite color -- blue -- is for when she's feeling peaceful.

"I use tiger the most because it is the most like my personality," Djassi said. "It's aggressive and strong."

She picks up a new one nearly every time she goes shopping. She started the collection on a whim, as something that would perhaps grow into her signature style. And she's been wearing one every day ever since.

The bandanas help her feel closer to her family, as they still reside in Portugal. She said the distance doesn't bother her as much as it used to. In the not-too-distant past, thoughts of her home and family thousands of miles away were enough to bring her to tears.

"My mom will be on the phone with me and will tell me, `I still can't believe you're in the United States. I still can't believe.' And I just say, `Yup, I made it,'" Djassi said. "The way we (Portuguese) see the United States is a perfect world. Back in high school, for me, coming to the United States was a huge dream. I never thought that I would end up here. I came here without knowing English and now I can speak it. I'm just so happy that I'm here."

Djassi first came to the U.S. in 2010 and spent two years at Chipola College in Marianna, Fla., before transferring to UCF. When she talks about her about her life as a student-athlete, you can hear the gratitude in her voice.

It is an experience she hopes she can give others one day after her plans of playing professional ball overseas and earning her master's degree.

Djassi, an interdisciplinary studies major with a focus in marketing, said she would like to pursue a career as a coach and help recruit foreign players to American programs. As the world continues to become smaller through advances in technology and travel, Djassi hopes she can do her part to help bridge the cultural divide.

"I want to build an understanding and appreciation. I want Americans to see another perspective, and for European players to see the American perspective," Djassi said. "If I never left Portugal, my mom wouldn't be able to afford my college degree. I feel that I'm so blessed to be here."



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