Tobias Guzman

Question: How did the values of karate influence your own decision to go to college?

Answer: Growing up I lived with my father, two blocks away from Regis High School. We were very poor. To attend a private high school was unheard of for my class, but my dad always told me, “You’re going to college.” During high school I took three karate classes per week, and taught two per week. The constant discipline helped me work towards the start of my college career.

Question: You use karate as a conversation starter when visiting prospective students. How do you relate karate to higher education?

Answer: I personalize each conversation right away by sharing the three most influential parts of my life: faith, family and karate. That gives me a good segway into what karate has taught me. It’s not always about defending yourself; it’s about how you carry yourself. Karate helped me get good grades and apply for jobs I normally wouldn’t, because I had the discipline to make myself study and confidence to try more things.

My hope is that when I speak to prospective students and their parents, the relationship and influence karate has had on my life gives students the little bit of hope they need to make the right steps into their future.

Question: Name one lesson you learned as an instructor of karate, and one you learned as a student?

Answer: As an instructor I learned that I needed to be with my students, standing beside them. If I expect a student to reach a certain level, I’ll be alongside them challenging them to reach that goal. As a student I learned to appreciate progression, an advanced form of incorporating karate disciplines into lifestyle.

Everything I learned in karate, first as a student then as a teacher… boy, I apply those to my job. I apply them everyday.

Tobias Guzman, assistant VP of Enrollment Management & Student Access, recently celebrated his sensei’s 40th anniversary of arriving to the United States and of being Tobias’ instructor. After so many years of practicing, Guzman’s black belt is finally shedding, a symbol of power and respect in the karate community.


our stories

Our Stories

Discover some of the ways UNC students, faculty and alumni are using their education to fulfill their dreams and make an impact in the world.