Despite collapsing to the floor during basketball practice this season with what doctors later described as a heart irregularity, Pernilla Sorenson didn’t skip a beat. She continues to live, eat and breathe basketball, much to the delight of her teammates, coaches, and family back home in her native Sweden.

Since arriving in Florida from Sweden to attend Broward College two years ago, Sorenson has been a standout on the basketball court.  Her athletic prowess may not have come to light had doctors not found that Sorenson suffered from a genetic condition that required, of all things, additional physical activity to prevent her blood pressure from lowering to levels that would cause her to lose consciousness. In other words, the diagnosis was to play more basketball.

And she did. When she’s not at class or in the library, Sorenson can always be found in the gym shooting baskets. Because of her focus and work ethic, she was this year named to the All-Southern Conference second team for the second consecutive year. Last season for the Seahawks, she averaged 11 points per game and ranked nationally among the top 100 rebounders and top 50 three-point shooters.

Excellence on and off the court

Pernilla SorensonBut Sorenson doesn’t just draw raves on the court, her professors and the international admissions staff applaud her attentiveness and quality of work in the classroom as well. She is a finalist for the Florida scholar-athlete of the year and will graduate from Broward College in May with a 4.0 grade-point average. As a business major, Sorenson was named to the 2018 National Junior College Athletic Association Academic All-America team. She will continue her academic and basketball careers on scholarship in the fall at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

“I’ve always had a goal to play basketball and at a high level,” said Sorenson, who shares a home 10 minutes from Broward College Judson A. Samuels South Campus with four other Swedish players on the Seahawks women’s basketball team. Each is a scholar-athlete in their own rights.

The unlikely quintet decided to attend Broward College together when they were recruited by women’s coach Brian McCormick who was impressed by their play on club teams in Sweden.

“I wanted a challenge,” said Sorenson. “I wanted to do something different. Broward College was a good way for me to get a degree and at the same time play basketball.”

Establishing a home away from home

The adjustment to college life abroad in the United States was made easier by the culture and language she shared with her Swedish teammates.

“My English has improved a lot,” said Sorenson, who is admittedly shy. “In the beginning, I was very quiet. I couldn’t be myself. But the people here have been nice.”

Sorenson said her teammates are inseparable. They bike together and go to the beach and mall, but with their focus always on school and basketball.

“Our team is very close,” said Sorenson, who misses traditional Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes, but has come to terms with lasagna and pasta with carbonara and Bolognese sauce. “We’re like family here.”

And, although she misses her family back home, she keeps in touch with her parents and sister and brother on FaceTime.

“Everything has worked out pretty well,” said Sorenson. “It’s been a goal of mine to graduate with a college degree. “It’s a nice feeling to know that I’ve accomplished that.”

Broward hosts F-1 and M-1 visa international students from nearly 150 different countries. Applying to Broward Col Broward as an international student is simple.