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Olympian Simone Biles Has a New Title: College Student

2018-02-13

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[00:00.00]
  • Simone Biles has won more World Championship and Olympic medals than any other American gymnast in history.
  • [00:11.01]
  • She won four golds at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
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  • She wrote a book about her life, which was recently turned into a movie.
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  • But one thing Biles does not have is a college education.
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  • That will soon change.
  • [00:31.62]
  • Biles had planned to go to the University of California Los Angeles after competing at the 2016 Olympics.
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  • But her very busy life made studying full-time at a university nearly impossible.
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  • Instead, she has started taking classes at the University of the People, a nonprofit, online university.
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  • She is working toward a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
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  • Biles, who is 20 years old, has also become the university’s global ambassador.
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  • Shai Reshef, an Israeli-born businessman, set up the University of the People in 2009.
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  • The school offers undergraduate and graduate level degree programs.
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  • Students are not required to pay to take the university’s classes.
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  • The cost is free, because of private and public donations.
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  • More than 6,000 educators and administrators from schools such as Yale University and New York University volunteer their time and expertise.
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  • While there are no tuition costs, students must pay $100 for each exam they take.
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  • The university estimates that getting a bachelor’s degree costs about $4,060.
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  • Biles has established a special scholarship in her name to help students with those costs.
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  • It is meant to help students who have been in foster care, like Biles herself.
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  • The school’s nontraditional methods work well for Biles, whose life so far has been anything but normal.
  • [02:38.32]
  • “I haven’t had a traditional school experience for a while, actually going into a classroom and sitting down...and the traditional way won’t work for me and I understand that. So it’s okay. Online it is!”
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  • Biles was home-schooled during her high school years to make more time for her gymnastics training.
  • [03:00.04]
  • Biles spoke with VOA and other media about her involvement at University of the People.
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  • She also spoke about the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal involving team doctor Larry Nassar.
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  • Biles has said she is among the more than 250 women and girls that he abused.
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  • Nassar has admitted guilt to numerous sex crimes.
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  • Biles says she hopes that once she returns to competition, people will talk about her abilities as a gymnast, and not her connection to Nassar’s abuse.
  • [03:44.10]
  • “I didn’t want the headlines, once I go out and compete again, to be -- you know -- that be the title of me, rather than what I have to offer for this sport."
  • [03:55.30]
  • Biles says the same drive and hard work that shaped her gymnastics career will help her in her studies as well.
  • [04:04.67]
  • I’m Ashley Thompson.
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