Friend of Tennis Spotlight: Sharissa Ryan '14
March 15, 2016
Former tennis standout Sharissa Ryan ’14 has managed to score multiple victories less than two years after graduation. Upon successfully completing an internship with Smith-Hanley Associates in October 2014, she returned to her native country to compete in the Miss Montserrat Festival Queen Show Pageant. She currently holds the titles of Miss Monserrat 2014, Miss Jaycees (Antigua & Barbuda) 2015 and doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. She attributes her success to her experience as a well-rounded student-athlete, unending family support and her willingness to take chances.
“I chose to study at Fairfield University because it was close to my home in Westchester, N.Y. so that my parents could see my matches. I also loved the campus and I knew the small classroom sizes would be a better learning environment for me. Playing Division I tennis had always been a goal of mine, so to finally be able to achieve that was very rewarding for me.”
Ryan finished her career as one of the winningest tennis players in Fairfield history. Over her four years she compiled an overall record of 130-74, including 68 career singles victories. During her sophomore season she was named the MAAC Women’s Tennis Championship Most Outstanding Performer as Fairfield claimed the MAAC title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. She was named to the All-MAAC First Team No. 2 Singles twice, All-MAAC Second Team No. 2 Singles twice, All-MAAC First Team No.2 Doubles once, and All-MAAC Second Team No. 2 Doubles three times. Ryan was also named an ITA Scholar-Athlete during her senior season.
Ryan can accredit much of her real world preparedness to the well-rounded life she created as an undergraduate. If juggling the schedule of a Division I student-athlete wasn’t enough, Ryan chose to major in Business Management with minors in Business Law and Applied Ethics. She also served as a representative for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), spent three years as a Cura Personalis mentor, participated in the Service for Justice Residential Hall and earned a semifinalist spot in the Fairfield University Annual Business Plan Competition.
After capturing the title as Miss Monserrat 2014, Ryan went straight to work giving back to her community through different programs. “During my reign I created a platform which encourages young children to get involved in sports, music and education. I established the Trailblazers Reading Club, volunteered with the Small Beginnings Music Group and conducted a tennis workshop. I chose these platforms because they are the three areas that have helped develop the person that I am today.”
To Sharissa, giving back doesn’t stop at the island of Montserrat. As a Friend of Tennis at Fairfield University, Ryan understands the importance of giving back to her University. “It is important to give back to your college or university because you learn so much as an undergraduate both formally and informally. You should want current students to reap those same benefits so that they too can become successful.”
When asked what advice she would pass along to current student-athletes, Ryan shared this: “Don’t be afraid to try something that you’ve never done before. Competing in a pageant was something that I had always wanted to do but I kept telling myself that it wasn’t for me. I am very happy that I took the chance and it has definitely taught me skills that I will use throughout my life.”In her spare time, Ryan enjoys reading, playing the violin and spending time with friends. Within the next five years she plans on opening her own business. We look forward to seeing her continue on her path to success.