With help from her parents, Barbara Nwaba has maintained the focus to excel as an athlete and a student. (Photo by Jason Lewis)
Barbara Nwaba won the city title in the 300-meter hurdles while at University High School, and she holds UC Santa Barbara records in the 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles, heptathlon, and 400-meter relay. (Photo by Jason Lewis)
Discipline has taken this track athlete to the top
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
One constant in Barbara Nwaba’s life has been discipline, which has been instilled in her for her entire life by her Nigerian parents, and it has led her to a record-breaking career at UC Santa Barbara.
“Nigerian parents are really strict and disciplined,” Nwaba said. “Other kids probably had a lot more freedom than I did. Since I was a little kid it was all about school and getting good grades. I took a lot of discipline from my parents.”
Nwaba seems like she would have liked more freedom, but she also seems like she understands that what her parents instilled in her has allowed her to be successful academically and athletically.
Nwaba was born and raised here in Los Angeles, and attended University High School, where she graduated with a 3.4 grade point average. She took mostly honors and AP classes, and was part of the School for the Advanced Studies. She always took the recommended classes, which helped her on the academic end to get into college. She did not rely solely on her athletic talents.
Nwaba excelled throughout her high school career in the 100-meter, 200-meter, 400-metter, 400-meter relay, 300-meter hurdles, and the high jump. The hurdles proved to be her best event, as she won the city championship in that event her senior year.
Nwaba is now a 4th year redshirt at UC Santa Barbara, where she holds the school records in the 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles, heptathlon, and 400-meter relay. Last season she won the Big West title in the 400-meter hurdles and the heptathlon, and she went to the NCAA championship meet, where she placed 12th in the nation in the heptathlon. From there she went to the USA track and field nationals, where she also took 12th place.
As much as she is excelling in track and field, Nwaba is also on course to graduate from UC Santa Barbra with a degree in Sociology. She is taking a number of science classes so she can attend optometry school after she graduates.
Nwaba takes advantage of all the resources that she has in college.
“As soon as I go to school I sign up for tutors for every class,” Nwaba said.
Mandatory study hall for freshmen helped Nwaba get off on the right foot her first year in college, and she has stayed on course to graduate on time. After graduation, Nwaba will have a decision to make. She can either pursue a track career or continue her education. From the sound of it, it appears that she will do both.