Fabian Jara Dohmann grew up in Paraguay, a small country in South America wedged between Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina. Dohmann says most Paraguayans don’t have the opportunity to go to college, but for him athletics was a way to a brighter future. Dohmann is a javelin thrower who has won several Big 12 Conference championships competing as a Longhorn, and he is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation.
He entered sports as a way to compete with his two older brothers. “No matter how hard I tried, they were always better than me, so I was never satisfied,” Dohmann said.
That drive earned him a UT athletic scholarship and admission to the McCombs School of Business. Dohmann graduated with a degree in economics and a minor in statistics in May 2017, and he is finishing his time at UT with a master’s in finance from McCombs this spring.
We spoke with Dohmann about the impact of college on his life and his plans after graduation.
Q. Why did you decide to come to UT?
Fabian Jara Dohmann: I decided to come to UT because it is the best college in the world to be a student-athlete. There was also the challenge of experiencing a different world. I was so excited to adapt to a new lifestyle. I think the U.S. college experience is a model that the rest of the world admires. It is incredible to be part of such an intellectual, energetic and transcendental environment.
Q. What were some challenges that helped you become who you are now? What did you learn from them?
Dohmann: The biggest challenge I faced was getting injured back-to-back. It is like getting hit by a wave and then, when you get back afloat, a bigger one comes and it sinks you even deeper. After recovering from these injuries, I learned that challenges are simply part of life. You only really lose when you give up. So after getting up each time, I became a much more resilient and tenacious person.
Q. Did you encounter any roadblocks as a nonnative English speaker?
Dohmann: My English was not as good as it sounds now. My freshman year, I had a really hard time with it. I had to record all of my classes, listen to them again in slower speed and then translate one or two words, sometimes a whole sentence. I also carried a dictionary each day in my backpack. Very useful. At one point I had to drop a class because the professor had a strong southern accent. I could not understand a word on his lectures. Yeah, it was not fun back then, but looking at it four years later is kind of funny.
(Editor’s Note: Dohmann is now fluent in five languages: English, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Paraguayan Guaraní.)
Q. What’s the difference between you before you got to UT and you now?
Dohmann: The difference is I am now a professional who has accomplished his most desired academic and athletic dreams. I discovered that UT had a tremendous power to make the best version of you. In my experience, it developed my potential as a student and as an athlete. Graduation concludes a chapter of that for me.
If I was able to accomplish this, it makes me feel right now that I'm able to accomplish anything.
Q. What resources and support did you find on campus that helped you most?
Dohmann: I will be thankful for life to UT Athletics. I owe much of my fascinating experience to them. They have been along with me in the ups and downs and played a key role in taking the right decisions that made me wear this cap today.
Q. After graduation, how do you hope to change the world?
Dohmann: My story is a testimony of perseverance. No one would have expected me to become a student at a top American university while being one of the top five javelin throwers in the nation.
I think many people find a path to becoming successful individuals, but only a few of them can go beyond that point and help others to become successful.
When I think about this, I think especially about my fellow Paraguayans. I chose to major in economics and finance because one day I will become a leader in my home country. I hope to be Paraguay’s secretary of sports or education. I want my story to inspire others.