By Jennifer Van Tuyl
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Sherine Wells, like many student-athletes, planned on receiving a degree and competing in collegiate athletics. The difference in Wells and other student-athletes is an immigration process that took seven years for the diminutive sprinter to end up at Oklahoma
Wells moved from Grenada to Canada at the age of 12, which began the seven-year moving process. Although a resident, her passport would not allow her to attend school in Canada because she is from Grenada. When Wells graduated high school in Canada in 2007, she was ready to come to the United States and pursue an education. One obstacle stood in the way. Excited to begin college, she had submitted all of her legal documents, but the government wasn’t as eager to approve. The delay postponed her from leaving the country, which she admitted was a little frustrating.
“I just couldn’t understand why they didn’t see the reason I wanted to leave the country,” Wells said. “Eventually I started calling them and writing to them. Last year in November they finally replied to me and told me I would be getting my papers, but I would have to wait a year and a half.”
After receiving her legal documents, Wells still had another obstacle. In order to obtain her U.S. visitors visa to allow her to visit schools in the U.S., she had to make the eight-hour trip from Toronto to Montreal twice.
With papers in hand, she first went to Seton Hall and immediately thought that was the place for her. Upon making her initial intention to go to Seton Hall, she prepared to head home. Unfortunately, Wells would not be able to get on the plane. Her passport was stamped as a Canadian-resident, but she still needed her permanent residence card. Although a major setback, she used the time to visit other schools including Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Western Kentucky and Nebraska.
During her collegiate tour, Wells stayed with her uncle in New York. She eventually was able travel to the Canadian Embassy and granted permission to return home.
“I continued on all of my visits,” Wells said. “I am just thankful to all of the coaches, especially my Projects Athletics Club coach Wellesley Johnson for making sure that once I left a school I could get to another school and the NCAA rules were being applied.”
The entire process was very costly for Wells, but during her journey she was able to find what she was looking for in OU.
“I wanted to find a place like home,” Wells said. “You won’t find a home in every place, but here I felt more comfortable compared to the other schools. Coach (Dana) Boone is a really good coach and the first time I spoke to her she was really truthful to me and that was something I really appreciated. Now that I am here, I see what she is talking about.”
Competing for OU has been more than Wells could have ever asked for. She solidified an OU program record in the 4x200 meter relay, and earned 2009 Indoor All-Big 12 honors in the 4x400 meter relay.
Throughout the entire process, passion carried Wells through tears and frustration. She never lost sight of her goal and believes the long, hard road was well worth the wait.
“It was worth the wait because I think if I would have gotten my papers earlier, I would not have gotten the opportunity I have now,” Wells said. “Because of that I have become a stronger person, I have become a better person and I have become wiser. That is something I really appreciate and I learned that I have to be patient and patience got me here.
“I do miss home. There is no place like home. But I can’t complain because I am getting everything I want here and even more than I had expected.”