Senior guard Zojajha Ayub has been a consistent threat for the Wellesley basketball team since her first year. The two-year captain has started a total of 45 games, tallying 314 points and 179 rebounds in her career. With the an eye on qualifying for the NEWMAC playoffs next, 'Zoo' is enjoying every moment on the court with her teammates as she plays her final collegiate basketball games.
The Belle Mead, New Jersey native found her second home in the athletics community at Wellesley, which introduced her to life-long friends and pushed her to grow both on and off the court. Her love of community inspired her to join the Student-Athlete Adviosry Committee (SAAC), where she served as co-president, working to foster the student-athlete connection and spread Blue pride across campus. A political science and economics double major, Zoo believes the liberal arts curriculum at Wellesley taught her to think critically and understand differing viewpoints. She knows that these are important skill that will allow her to be successful after graduation in her job at Berenberg Capital Markets. Recently, Zoo took the time to speak with wellesleyblue.com to discuss her college experience and what it means to be a student-athlete at Wellesley College.
What made you decide to attend Wellesley College?
I decided to attend Wellesley College because I wanted to be challenged academically and athletically. My decision to attend Wellesley was guided by the academics and athletics, however I also believe it was a sort of gut decision. Something about Wellesley College just felt right and so I went with my gut and applied early decision to the school. I think I didn't totally understand why I had chosen to attend Wellesley until I was actually at Wellesley and started to reap the benefits of an all-women's education.
Did you always know you wanted to study Political Science and Economics? What do you enjoy most about your majors?
When I started at Wellesley, I was an IR-econ major, however I quickly learned I wanted majors that were more focused on political thought and economics. This led me to drop the IR-econ major and instead pursue a double major in economics and political science. The majors have allowed me to indulge both of my passions and explore both the quantitative and qualitative sides of the social sciences. I enjoy the way these two majors complement each other, while also providing me with two differing classroom experiences. I can be copying down multi-variable calculus equations in an 300 level economics class in the morning and later that day I could be discussing immigration policy with my political science professor in office hours.
What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation I will be living in New York City working for Berenberg Capital Markets. I will mainly be working in equity research and equity sales. Huge shout out to Wellesley College Career Education for helping me land this job!
How has your work in the classroom and on the basketball court prepared you for life after Wellesley?
My work in the classroom and on the basketball court has prepared me for life after college in countless ways. I have played basketball since first grade and the sport, especially at Wellesley, has taught me the importance of hard work and principal. Basketball has given me the soft skills such as timeliness, teamwork, and coachability, to excel in the workplace. My work in the classroom has given the ability to think critically and conduct thoughtful analysis. Wellesley's liberal arts curriculum, distribution requirements, and student body has pushed me to learn how to think in a critical manner, see scenarios from several different viewpoints, and then respond or act. I think being able to do this will serve me very well in life after Wellesley.
You have been a member of SAAC for most of your time at Wellesley and recently finished your second year on the e-board, why did you initially want to be involved in SAAC?
I loved the idea of joining SAAC because I was able to meet other student-athletes and help build the athletics community at Wellesley. I saw SAAC as a great opportunity to create a more cohesive athletics community and spread the reach of athletics across campus. I also saw SAAC as an opportunity to be a liaison between student athletes and administration which is another connection I wanted to help foster.
What are some of the programs or initiatives you have helped to organize through SAAC? How have they positively impacted the student-athlete community?
As a co-president of SAAC I was able to help organize several open meetings and spirit oriented events. I think student-athletes and the greater Wellesley community have been impacted by the Earn the W day events SAAC has organized in conjunction with PERA administration. This fall we organized an Earn the W day tailgate that brought a great crowd out to a home volleyball match. We partnered with Severance House Council and Wellesley Fresh to ensure we were including several communities on campus. I think the open meetings we held have been very impactful as well. Last year we organized an open meeting to discuss race, sexuality, and socioeconomic status in Wellesley Athletics. These were hard topics to talk about but having an open dialogue is imperative is imperative in identifying and remedying issues.
How have you been able to manage your school work, basketball and all of your other commitments on campus?
Time management skills have helped me manage school work, basketball, and other commitments I have on campus. Basketball provides me with a very structured schedule which has helped me manage my time effectively. I am an avid user of my planner and Google calendar and try to start large papers or assignments ahead of their due dates.
Last winter you traveled with your team to The Land of the Magic Tournament in Daytona Beach, Florida, what was that experience like? What did you like most about it? In what ways do you think it positively impacted your season?
Traveling to Florida for the Land of the Magic Tournament was an awesome experience. It was a great learning experience to play against teams we wouldn't typically play against. I think the highlight of the trip was being able to bond with my teammates. The basketball team takes trips like this every three years so having the opportunity to do it for four or five days at the start of wintersession was a great bonding experience and change of pace.
What is your favorite Wellesley basketball memory?
My favorite Wellesley basketball memory was our one-point, overtime win over Fitchburg State during the tip-off tournament my sophomore year. The win was a great team effort at the start of the season.
What is do you like most about being a student-athlete at Wellesley?
The best part of being a student-athlete at Wellesley is being a part of the athletics community. I have met so many great people and made so many great, life long friends and I owe a lot of that to the athletics community. The athletics community has really helped me find my place at Wellesley and pushed me to grow, in and out of athletics, throughout my four years here.
Besides basketball, what do you like most about Wellesley College?
One of my favorite things about Wellesley, besides basketball, are the people here. I am always in awe of my fellow students, whether that be in orgs I am involved in, or during class discussions. It is inspiring to see students who are truly passionate and inquisitive about so many different things.
Wellesley Athletics strives for excellence at the conference, regional, and national levels, while providing opportunities for students to achieve their potential and learn the values of discipline, leadership, critical thinking, and responsibility to oneself and others.