Originally from Asturias in the north of Spain, Carolina Villanueva Suarez has lived in over 13 countries around the world and most recently lived in Manhattan, New York. She is currently in her second year at IE University pursuing a Dual Degree in Law and International Relations. She also represents Spain as an equestrian show jumper.

I started riding at the early age of three and it was like love at first sight. That was the day riding became one of the most important things in my life. My parents have been extremely supportive and are at the core of me being able to pursue my athletic career.

I train three to four hours a day, six days a week. When I compete, the time commitment can vary between nine and twelve hours a day. I’ve grown accustomed to balancing riding with my academic life as it’s something I’ve dealt with from a very young age in every country I’ve lived in. Almost every hour of my day is accounted for. Sports require a very high level of organizational skills, and athletes in school know the importance of time management better than anyone. There are occasions where I compete for 35 weeks in a year! When I’m not on a horse or in the library, I’m with my friends and family, enjoying campus life.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a heavy impact on the athletic world. Many equestrian sports competitions have been cancelled and there remains a lot of uncertainty regarding whether future competitions will take place. However, one thing that COVID-19 has not impacted is my training schedule. We have been allowed to continue training as it is an outdoor sport.

IE University has been instrumental in combining the Dual Degree with my strict competition schedule. An illustrative example of the university’s support is when I was asked to take part in the Spanish national championships in December, just one week before the event occurred. Given that the competition would take place during the exam season and that there is a strict attendance policy at IE University, I was incredibly nervous that my academic career would interfere with this amazing opportunity to compete in the championship. I met with IEU Athletics Director Juan Barrio and he made sure to take care of the scheduling so that I could attend my exams and continue to pursue my dream. Knowing that IEU Athletics is there to support you when you need it most gives me an invaluable sense of security and reassurance.

What I love and appreciate about IEU Athletics is their empathy and the importance they place on the athlete, understanding our demanding schedules and supporting us throughout the year. Regardless of the time of day or the situation at hand, they always have the athlete’s best interest at heart. They can relate to the difficulties that come with studying at a university level and pursuing a professional career as an athlete. They understand the time that goes into training and the importance of each competition. Moreover, they represent our voice as athletes to the IE University administration.

I would absolutely recommend joining IEU Athletics to prospective students. Although I practice my sport outside the university, I am a part of the IEU Athletics team as they are my main source of support on campus. Moreover, if you play a sport that IE University offers its students (there are many), you will form tight bonds with your team members. The caliber and competency level you will find in these talented teams is difficult to find elsewhere.