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Jerome Meyinsse’s undergraduate college experience is starting to wind down. A senior center/forward on Virginia’s men’s basketball team, he has one season left with the Cavaliers. While his UVa basketball career hasn’t been what he’d hoped it would be to this point, he’s optimistic on a personal and team level as he looks ahead to the 2009-10 season.

“It seems like just yesterday I was walking through the door and trying to figure out college life and the University,” Meyinsse said. “Now I’m on my way out in what seems like the blink of an eye. I’ve enjoyed my experience so far and I’m looking forward to a terrific fourth year.”

The 6-9 Meyinsse played in 17 games last season and started one. He had one of the best games of his career in UVa’s close loss at Syracuse, establishing season highs with 10 points and eight rebounds.

For his career he’s played in 58 games, averaging 1.7 points and 1.7 rebounds a game while shooting 54.7 percent from the field. He’s lettered three times for the Cavaliers.

“I’m looking forward to a great year,” Meyinsse said. “So far I don’t think I’ve lived up to my full potential. This is my last season and I’m going to give it my all.

“My career has been a little disappointing to me. I expected to have had a bigger impact on the team than I’ve had in the previous three years. That provides an incentive for me to really put a stamp on this year.”

As Meyinsse prepares for his final season with the Cavaliers, the Baton Rouge, La., native says he is impressed with new Virginia head coach Tony Bennett who is preparing for his first.

“I think the transition with Coach Bennett and his staff coming in went as smooth as possible,” Meyinsse said. “I think this staff and Coach Bennett are great communicators. They want to bring change, but some things they want to keep the same. They talked with us and made sure everyone was comfortable. I like that about him and his staff.

“My first impression was a great one. He is coming in to change this program around and I think he’s going about it in the right manner. I’m excited to see what it will bring us.”

While basketball is what introduced and ultimately brought Meyinsse to UVa, he has taken full advantage of all the opportunities the University presented to him.

Both of his parents are professors at Southern University and as you would expect, he is a strong student. A double major in economics and math, the subjects his parents teach, Meyinsse has been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball All-Academic Team each of the last two seasons. He has also been on the ACC Honor Roll each of the last three years. He is a member of the National Society of College Scholars and a member of the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society.

“Academics were stressed to me from an early age,” Meyinsse said. “That really had an impact on me when I was younger, in elementary and middle school. By the time I finished middle school and moved on to high school, it became self-motivation. At that point I knew what I could do and knew I had the capabilities to do well academically. That drive kept me going and it’s continued into my college career.”

Meyinsse is also a leader among Virginia’s student-athletes. Since his freshman year, he has been a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Connittee and a Student-Athlete Mentor. This year he is the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is a member of the Student-Athlete Mentors’ Leadership Council for the second consecutive year.

He is also involved with Athletes Committed to Community and Education (ACE), a service oriented outreach program at local elementary and middle schools. The program is designed to promote academic success, support character education, and strengthen and develop leadership qualities.

Why is it important for Meyinsse to be so involved?

“Part of it is you always want to leave somewhere better than it was before you got there,” Meyinsse said. “I think it’s also important to get involved in the community because it’s a privilege to be an athlete at the University of Virginia and it’s an opportunity to give back to others who’ve helped you and to people who need the help.”

In the spring of 2009, Meyinsse received one of the athletics department’s ACC Top VI Awards. The awards are presented to six student-athletes who have given the most in terms of service to the University and Charlottesville communities.

His involvement at Virginia is in many ways a continuation of his time at McKinley High School in Baton Rouge. In addition to basketball, he was involved in many academic and musical endeavors as a high school student.

Meyinsse’s schedule begs the question, how does he find the time for everything?

“The John Paul Jones Arena helps me out a lot,” Meyinsse said. “What the arena allows me to do is go straight from practice to get something to eat to study hall. I can do all of those activities without losing any time getting from one to another. Once I finish all my work, I have time for the extracurricular activities I participate in.

“The biggest reason I can do it is time management. I believe I do a good job of having my priorities in order and knowing how to manage each of those so they all work together.”

His busy schedule even carried over to the summer. Meyinsse was Virginia’s representative at the NCAA National Student-Athlete Development Conference in Orlando, Fla., before returning to Charlottesville to work out with his teammates, take two summer classes, work with Professor Ed Burton in the Economics Department and participate in a leadership opportunity on Grounds (L2K9). He then traveled with his parents to Ghana, where his father is from, to visit with family. As is normally the case with Meyinsse, he found value in all of his summer endeavors.

Now he’s settled in for another busy year. His goal is to have a positive impact on the fortunes of the 2009-10 men’s basketball team. That would be a fitting conclusion to an undergraduate career that has seen Jerome Meyinsse take full advantage of his opportunities to benefit himself and others.

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