Wednesday, October 20, 2021

UM School of Engineering Is Proud of World Cup Competitor Rafaelle Souza

Rafaelle Souza Photo courtesy of Joshua McCoy / Ole Miss Athletics
Rafaelle Souza
Photo courtesy of Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics

With the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup well underway, everyone is turning their attention to Vancouver, Canada, watching in anticipation on which nation might bring the cup home for four years.

This year a player is taking the field for her country who once wore an Ole Miss uniform, Rafaelle Souza. Souza found her way to Oxford wanting to pursue her favorite two passions: playing soccer and wanting to become a civil engineer.

Souza came to Ole Miss from Salvador, Brazil, where her touring soccer schedule interfered with getting an education at the Universidade Do Estado Da Bahia. While there, she worked hard to study engineering while not playing on the field at the Universidad. There, she began pursuing options on where to study civil engineering and remain a star soccer athlete when Univerity of Mississippi came into her sights.

Prior coming into the engineering program at University of Mississippi, Souza had some classes already under her belt. Despite coming into this program with experience, the odds were against her acclimating to the English language and structure of how it was taught here, according to Dr. Cristiane Surbeck, associate professor Department of Civil Engineering.

On the pitch for the Rebels, Souza shone in her three seasons as well as in the classroom as the professors at the School of Engeering felt it was a real pleasure to have her.

“Rafa (as she is affectionately known) was a really intelligent student — she got really high grades on exams, always in class and paying attention with a great attitude towards her classes along with a really difficult soccer schedule,” said Dr. Surbeck.

During her time at Ole Miss, Souza showed perseverance, intelligence and dedication to her craft and studies. Souza was a great example to other students in the department as she arrived here still as a beginner in the English language and a sought after soccer player.

“Even though in the beginning, she had a difficulty with the language and the commitment to soccer, there was still that full commitment to her academics also, and she was a great example,” said Dr. Surbeck.

At the end of her Ole Miss career, she stood alone at the top of the record books in goals in a career with 44 and a total of 108 career points and finished sixth in a career with 20 assists over her three-year career in a Rebel uniform before being selected to play professionally for the Houston Dash.

Dean of Engineering and Professor of Civil Engineering Dr. Alexander Cheng said, “She came here from Brazil She went into engineering, which is a bit unusual because it is a discipline that will take a lot of her time and effort, while also playing soccer for Ole Miss. She enrolled in the civil engineering program, and did very well. She graduated with very high credentials.”

Professors in the engineering department want their students to have a global experience because with this degree, one might travel beyond the United States.

“We want our students to be exposed to as many international students as the can,” Dr. Cheng said. “We like for our students to have the global experience she brought this to the department.”

On Wednesday, team Brazil defeated Costa Rica by a score of 1-0 to advance deeper into Group E play.

“To see Rafa competing in the World Cup for me is like a proud aunt,” Dr. Surbeck said. “I am also from Brazil and for me having its like having a family member in the World Cup.”

Adam Brown is sports editor and can be reached at