Graduate profile: Pol Solanellas Manzanares
Barcelona native Pol Solanellas Manzanares was living the dream that he saw so many times on TV or movies back home in Spain as a student-athlete at East Carolina University in 2014.
Solanellas came to ECU on a track scholarship, graduated with a degree in communications in 2016, started his MBA degree that same year, and then in 2017, Solanellas was named Outstanding Scholar-Athlete and won ECU’s inaugural International Award.
Then, on Feb. 12, 2018, his dream was delayed. Solanellas was involved in a biking accident that left him with brain and body injuries. He spent a couple of weeks in a coma and then the following month in recovery at Vidant. Thanks to a GoFundMe campaign started by his MBA advisor Dr. Amy McMillan, who he calls “awesome” because of her support through this experience, Solanellas’ family was able to come to the states and eventually take him home to finish his recovery.
“I was very lucky to have a lot of support (at ECU),” said Solanellas. “When you feel that, it (recovery) is easier.”
Because of his athletic training, he wasn’t worried about his body recovering. Instead, he focused on his cognitive recovery.
“My mind is my tool,” he said. “If I lose that, what do I do?”
In the fall of 2018, Solanellas picked up where he left off and started studying remotely. He came back to ECU for the spring 2019 term to finish his MBA. When asked if he would change anything about his ECU experiences, his answer could be viewed as surprising.
“No. I’ve received the U.S. dream because of the support, especially from Dr. McMillan and ECU leadership,” said Solanellas. “I’ve had opportunities here that nobody gave me at home.”
Soon, Solanellas will continue his American dream at Ole Miss where he’ll pursue his doctorate in business management.