Golden Flash from Brazil Enjoys MAC Title Her First Year at Kent State

The junior physical education major found a welcoming home after her transfer in the fall of ‘23

Golden Flashes Women’s Basketball player Bianca Juzzo was playing for New Mexico Junior College when a recruiter suggested she consider a transfer to Kent State University.

A native of Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, Juzzo grew up in a family of basketball players, so the idea of moving to a larger program was appealing. On her first visit, Juzzo enjoyed touring the Kent Campus, meeting the team and even going to a football game and haunted house.

“I watched the football team beat Akron and it was amazing,” she said. “It was a bigger school, everything was different, everything was exciting.”

But when Juzzo learned that Kent State President Todd Diacon spoke her native Portuguese, she knew that she belonged here.

“During my first visit, I found out the president speaks Portuguese, so I talked to him,” Juzzo said. President Diacon is a historian who specializes in Brazilian history.  

Women's basketball player Bianca Juzzo cuts down the net at the MAC champion game.

Juzzo also learned that Kent State operates an American Academy at the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUCPR), located in Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil, a program in which Brazilian students can earn a Kent State bachelor’s degree.  

“That was amazing, I don’t see any other schools doing that and that caught my attention for sure,” Juzzo said.

Kent State prides itself on fostering a safe, welcoming and diverse global community, and American Academy is one of dozens of international programs and partnerships Kent State maintains across the globe.

Juzzo arrived at Kent State at the start of the 2023 Fall Semester, and although she was a bit homesick at first, she quickly found her family.

“You know, my teammates made me feel at home,” Juzzo said. “I was missing home, but now I feel like I am part of it here.”

On the basketball front, the forward who wears No. 5 also has had an exciting season.  

On March 16, the Golden Flashes defeated the State University of New York at Buffalo, to capture the Mid-American Conference tournament championship, the team’s first since 2002. Juzzo proudly draped herself in the flag of Brazil to cut down the net from the game and posed with President Diacon and the flag. 

A trip to South Bend, Indiana, followed, as the Golden Flashes took on the women’s team from the University of Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA tournament on March 23. While the Flashes did not win, just advancing into the tournament was an exciting accomplishment for Juzzo.

“I always say to the girls, I’m living so many things for the first time, it’s amazing,” she said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Juzzo grew up in a family of basketball enthusiasts; she and her brother and sister all played the sport in high school. Her father, Marcio, played and coaches high school basketball, while her mother, Gislene, coaches track at a local community center.

Juzzo, who is majoring in physical education with a focus on sports performance, said she is excited to see what the future will bring, and she is considering every possibility both now and once she graduates.

“I kind of need to see what the future is going to bring to me,” Juzzo said, “I am studying every possibility including staying here and working here or going back to Brazil and working there.”

POSTED: Monday, March 25, 2024 03:01 PM
Updated: Monday, March 25, 2024 03:32 PM
Lisa Abraham
Kent State University