Hope College’s Elizabeth Perkins is grateful for a prestigious opportunity to learn about other cultures and how athletics impacts their lives.

The senior two-sport athlete from Eaton Rapids, Michigan (Lansing Christian HS) is one of nine college athletes across the country the NCAA has chosen to take part in the United Nations Office on Sport For Development and Peace International Sports and Social Impact Summit. 

Perkins, a basketball and soccer player for the Flying Dutch, is one of three Division III athletes selected for the conference that runs from June 6-18 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Three athletes from each NCAA division were invited. 

“Somehow by the grace of God, I was chosen. It still blows my mind,” Perkins said. “I’m very excited. There will be a lot of different countries that will be represented. I’m excited to learn from other cultures, get to know people who are different than me and see what sports mean to them.” 

The NCAA is providing funding for all nine student-athletes to attend the summer, an outreach program targeted at the global millennial generation. Participants will learn to use the universal language of sports to engage and lead their peers in addressing social and economic issues in their communities. 

NCAA member schools nominated up to two student-athletes to attend the summit. 

Perkins is a Spanish and psychology double major at Hope who is considering seminary and graduate school. She also is minoring in French. 

“We’re going to see how we as young people and athletes can use sports to address things like gender issues, refugee issues,” Perkins said. “This summit stood out for me, using sports as a positive in the community. I’m all about that.”