By being a leader, you really have more avenues to help people. As long as it’s reflected in helping others and making an impact in the community, I think really that’s what inspires me.”
When Rebeca Mitrea moved to the United States to play on DePaul University’s women’s Division I tennis team, she was thousands of miles away from home. Mitrea was born and raised in Romania, where she began playing tennis at just five years of age. At 16, she was the No. 1 ranked tennis player in Romania and ranked 22nd in Europe.
After she joined DePaul on a full tennis scholarship, her list of accomplishments quickly grew. Mitrea became the all-time DePaul record holder for most overall tennis wins, most singles wins and most singles wins in one season. While serving as the team captain for two years, she earned several awards, including the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Cissie Leary Award for Sportsmanship, which is given to an NCAA Division I women’s player who displays inspiring dedication and commitment to her team.
Mitrea originally majored in health sciences but then transferred to the Driehaus College of Business to study finance. In 2016, she graduated summa cum laude with an undergraduate finance degree, and last year she completed her DePaul MBA in finance and international business. She now works as a credit risk analyst at HSBC Bank in Chicago and is active in its employee group, Balance, which advocates for the recruitment, development and engagement of a gender-balanced workforce.
Despite living far away from her family, Mitrea says DePaul came to feel like home. “It would help that I would go home to Romania in the summers and the winters during the breaks, but for me DePaul was family,” she says.
Mitrea credits the Athletics Department with fostering a welcoming and supportive environment for its student- athletes to become leaders. Staff members, who knew all of the athletes by name, would frequently ask Mitrea how she was doing. The department also offered a team of academic advisors, as well as other resources, to help student-athletes balance their academic workload with the demands of playing tennis.
“One of the greatest things that tennis has helped me achieve is being a higher performer, doing a number of things at the same time and doing them to the best of my abilities—not just doing 70 percent of one thing, but giving it my all with everything I did,” says Mitrea, who graduated valedictorian from high school in her home country. “It really forces you to do your best.”
Mitrea now plays tennis whenever she can and hopes to help DePaul’s tennis team as much as possible. She also plans to become a mentor in DePaul’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge Network, which connects DePaul students with alumni.
“By being a leader, you really have more avenues to help people,” she says. “As long as it’s reflected in helping others and making an impact in the community, I think really that’s what inspires me. As long as I could help all of the other girls on my team, that’s what really made me feel fulfilled and happy with all that I was doing.”
More student leader profiles: