Cumberland University


Evan Sanna: International Success, On and Off the Court

Rick Brown
by Shauna Lynn Photography

For Evan Sanna, success is measured both athletically and academically. A Business major and tennis player, Sanna balances a high GPA with a leading position in Cumberland’s men’s tennis roster.

But his biggest accomplishment may simply be representing his fellow international students as President of Cumberland’s International Students Union.


“It’s an honor; we’re like a circle of friends,” said Sanna. “Cumberland has excellent support for international students, and it’s great to be able to give back to the community.”

A native of Kew, Australia, Sanna arrived in America—his “second home”—several years ago, transferring to Cumberland in the fall of 2010. Having spent years abroad, Sanna was glad to see Cumberland had a thriving community of international students.

“America is a bit faster and more commercial than Australia. But the similarities are greater than the differences, and people at Cumberland are very nice,” said Sanna. “When I arrived here, especially with the international athletes, I felt at home.”

At Cumberland, Sanna found not only an institution, but a community. The Australian was surprised when he discovered that Cumberland’s small class sizes would mean that every professor came to know him personally, and some of the friendships he has made at the university have had a profound influence on his life.

“Ms. Pace Pope, whom I work for as an admissions representative, is so nice—she’s like a second mother to me. [Professor] Terry Holcomb was also a great influence. He really got students to believe in themselves,” said Sanna.

That support has permeated every aspect of Sanna’s activities at Cumberland, especially his tennis playing. Sanna credits his teammates and coach for helping him to develop his skills—a development that has twice led Sanna to be named TranSouth Athletic Conference’s Player of the Week.

“It’s very hard work, and the competition is strong,” said Sanna. “But it’s rewarding, and I try to follow my coach Bill McCormick’s motto: ‘No excuses.’”

Sanna has brought that same determination to his work with the International Students Union. Whether organizing a spaghetti dinner or helping create an easter egg hunt for local children, Sanna enjoys the chance Cumberland gives him to interact with and lead his fellow international students.

That experience has also given Sanna an understanding of what it takes to lead—a critical skill for his future business endeavors. Majoring in Business and minoring in Management, the scholar hopes to eventually pursue an MBA and become the CEO of his own company.

Sanna has not had to look far in Cumberland to find role models for that aspiration.

“I try to emulate my advisor, Dr. Stumb. I admire the way he handles himself, how he presents himself,” said Sanna. “He seems like a model of how a businessman should act.”

Such models may not be difficult for Sanna to approximate. Renowned for his good temperament, Sanna recently received the “Rude Award” at a meeting of Cumberland’s athletic teams—a joking reference to his friendly, easy manner.

It is the latest, but certainly will not be the last, of Sanna’s accolades as a dedicated international student athlete at Cumberland University.