The United States is often called the "land of opportunity," and such is the case for one UT student-athlete in particular.
Born in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Lucia Polo, a freshman on the Lady Vol golf team, decided to move to the U.S. two years ago to continue her pursuit of one day playing on the LPGA Tour.
She thought the jump was necessary when considering the limitations that staying in her home country would place on her golf career.
"Playing back home was difficult," Polo said. "There were only about five girls that played against each other. We only had about six golf courses and they were all private so there weren't many options like there are in America. The universities didn't have any sports, so I decided to move here to improve my game and get better."
From an early age, she knew golf was one of her true passions, especially when considering how important the sport is throughout her family's history.
"While growing up, me and my brothers would always play golf together and compete against one another," Polo said. "It has always been a tradition in my family. My grandfather was a professional golfer and he has always been our role model."
The remembrance of Hilario Polo serves as an inspiration for her every time she takes to the links. All Polo has to do is look down at her grandfather's initials on her golf ball to remain calm and play to the best of her potential.
"Before I was born my grandfather passed away from cancer," she said. "I always put his initials on my golf ball so I always have him in mind. All the people back home would come to me and ask me what my relationship was with him. It was great to hear the stories and to know how much people appreciated him."
This season, Polo has been an asset for her team, especially in the Mercedes-Benz Classic that was held in Knoxville two weekends ago where the Lady Vols placed fourth overall.
In just the second tournament of her college career, she finished tied for 19th overall at the Cherokee Country Club that played host to 17 different schools.
Her performance also placed third best on the team.
"I thought I played pretty consistent and I was pleased because I met my goal for the tournament," she said.
While the transition to the Division I level of play has appeared almost seamless for Polo, who was a standout golfer in high school at New Garden Friends School (N.C.), the changeover to a new style of life has been a whirlwind for the 18-year-old.
"The biggest transition for me was finishing high school here," she said. "I came to the United States to live with my coach and his family. They really helped me with the language, the culture, and getting used to American life. It was really helpful having them around."
Another friend that she has been able to lean on is UT men's golfer Juan Carlos Serrano Guevara, a freshman from Mexico City, Mexico.
"We spend a lot of time together and are lucky to be here for each other," Serrano Guevara said. "Having someone that shares the same culture and speaks the same language as you has definitely made us closer. We talk about golf together and help each other with what we can."
Like the majority of her fellow freshmen, Polo said she has enjoyed going to Tennessee football games this fall, though it's an aspect of the culture she is still adjusting to.
"I'm trying to get into football games even though I don't understand them as well as I'd like to," she said. "Everybody seems to be into them and it has been fun. I've liked getting to meet other people and supporting other Tennessee athletes."
Polo will appear in one more tournament during the fall season for the Lady Vols when the team travels to Austin, Texas for the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational Oct. 13-15.
"From here on out it's all about continuing to put in the work to play the best I possibly can," Polo said. "It really is an honor to be a Volunteer."