Noemi Zaharia is an Olympic medalist, world Universiade champion, successful former collegiate swimming coach and a professor at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. She now has another title: Doctor.

Zaharia’s impressive swimming record includes two medals in swimming at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, winning silver in the 400 meter mixed and bronze in the 200 meter mixed for Romania. She also won five gold medals, two bronze medals and MVP honors in swimming at the 1987 Summer Universiade in Yugoslavia. She also competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

In May, she walked across the stage and collected her Doctor of Education degree in sports management at USSA’s commencement program. She earned her degree in 2020, but could not travel to the USSA campus because that year’s commencement ceremony was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

“The education I received from the Academy is priceless as it is focused on sports management, and the professors are very knowledgeable in sports and education,” Zaharia said. “The USSA faculty challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and reach for a higher level of academic excellence.”

Born Noemi Lung in Baia Mara, Romania, Zaharia moved to the United States in 1990. Because of her impressive swimming resume, she was given the opportunity to coach the sport at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) while she pursued her education. Zaharia earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from FAU and a master’s degree in sport and fitness administration from Florida International University (FIU).

“The Academy having the highest level of academia will allow me to broaden my horizons and will help my evolution as a professor permitting me to insert my personal experiences for the betterment of future generations of teachers, coaches and sports professionals.”