For Aliyah Huland El, a rising fourth year guard on the Virginia Women’s Basketball team, a new year means a new outlook on the court and in the classroom. A Kinesiology major from New Jersey, Aliyah has used her third year to push her limits athletically and academically. She explained, “It is easy to be physically present, but to be actively involved from a mental standpoint is something entirely different. I believe practicing and perfecting being both mentally and physically present one hundred percent of the time will translate over to a more fluid and better overall performance for both my team and myself this season.”

In addition to her love of basketball, Aliyah’s favorite part of being a student-athlete at Virginia is the relationship she has with her teammates and coaching staff. Aliyah explained the bond, “The team is super close-knit, full of players with different characteristics, backgrounds and interests. Despite the diversity, we all get along very well and truly consider each other sisters.”

Off the court and outside of the classroom, Aliyah is committed to bettering the community through her involvement with various services projects. In between her busy schedule of classes and practices each day, Aliyah volunteers as a tutor at Zion Union Baptist Church and helps lead a basketball clinic for individuals with disabilities. For Huland El, “Working with children and individuals with disabilities has taught me both empathy and humility. Through these experiences, I have learned how to further broaden my ways of thinking, and how to successfully communicate with others.”

She was named to the 2016 ACC Honor Roll and following graduation, plans to become a pediatrician. Aliyah gives credit to the University community for challenging and supporting her in her mission to become a doctor. She said, “The alumni program here is amazing and gives a ton of support and guidance to current students. Being a student-athlete has helped fulfill my eventual professional goal, and for this I am incredibly grateful.”

Aliyah was honored at the 2017 Hoos Choice Awards as recipient of the 2017-2018 Virginia Women’s Basketball Alumni Scholarship. When given the opportunity to thank the VAF and her donors, Aliyah said, “I am eternally grateful for the generous donations of the VAF. Without their selflessness and dedication to our University, I would not be able to enjoy the many benefits and opportunities the University of Virginia has to offer!”

Donor contributions to the VAF Annual Fund support student-athletes such as Aliyah in many ways including scholarships, the Athletics Academic Affairs program and sport-specific operational budgets.