Race-car champion is driven to succeed in the classroom

Kay Van Berlo, once a competitive go-kart racer and now an international race car driver, shares what drew him to the University of Miami.

When Dutch race car driver Kay Van Berlo decided to move to the United States, he knew choosing the right school was important.

“Moving to the US without any relatives, I knew I wanted to be in a place where there’s always something going on,” said Van Berlo. “I always loved Miami, so Miami was definitely at the top of the list. Then several people recommended to me that UM is one of the best schools in Florida.”

As a child, Van Berlo spent time at the racetrack watching his father, who raced as a hobby. When he turned 8 years old, his father bought him a go-kart and took him to a track, effectively jump-starting his racing career. The years he spent competitively go-karting provided a great foundation for his transition to race car driving when he turned 17.

Van Berlo has competed internationally and won multiple races, including the Road to Le Mans, becoming the youngest European Le Mans winner.

Van Berlo credited the College of Arts and Sciences with making his first semester at University of Miami a smooth experience for him.

“I’ve got a great professor,” Van Berlo said, referring to calculus lecturer Aleksandra Gorzycka-Silkora.

He explained how she teaches “in a really conversational way” with an “easy-going” and “interactive” style.

Van Berlo said that he appreciates how cooperative the entire College of Arts and Sciences faculty and staff have been with his rigorous racing schedule.

Caleb Everett, senior associate dean for academic affairs in the college, said that Van Berlo is a great example of what students are capable of when they pursue their passions both inside and outside the classroom.

“Kay’s passion for racing is contagious, and his ability is impressive,” said Everett. “We are happy to have a Dutch champion in our midst, but we are equally pleased to see that Kay brings the same passion for his coursework here in the College of Arts and Sciences that he does to the Porsche Carrera Cup.”

Competing in races while also earning a degree makes Van Berlo feel as though he has the best of both worlds.

“In the end, there are a lot of things similar between racing and school. I try to be at my best in both worlds, and it requires a lot of dedication and scheduling in order to make both things happen at the same time,” he said.

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