Narindra Rafidimalala: Effectively combining academics, athletics and faith


Noah Nims

Narindra Rafidimalala, third-year student at Westmont

Lexi McWilliams , Features Editor

From Madagascar to Arkansas to Santa Barabara, third-year student Narindra Rafidimalala has experienced many styles of education. After frequently relocating while growing up, he now finds a home away from home within the Westmont community as an engineering and physics major as well as an athlete. 

Rafidamalala was born and raised in Madagascar along with his sister and brothers. While there, his father encouraged him to run track beginning at the age of four. Rafidimalala says, “My father wanted to give the future generations more examples of how one can combine athletics, education and religion. To my brothers and I, the exercises my father made us do felt like a game.” After highschool, Rafidimalala went to the Polytechnic University of Antananarivo, Madagascar to study engineering, but he says, “I wanted to go to the U.S. because they have the best rankings of schools and great athletic programs.”

Before attending Westmont, Rafidimalala attended the University of Arkansas and Cloud County Community College. The University of Arkansas has a great track and field team that Rafidimalala wanted to be a part of. He recalls, “[The University of Arkansas] was helpful in getting me to the U.S. English is not my first language, so I had to change my whole academic perspective into English versions. I had to change mathematical and scientific terms into English. Thankfully they were patient with me as I took the required tests.” 

The University of Arkansas was also committed to making Rafidimalala as comfortable as possible in the U.S. Their international student club, similar to the group at Westmont, helped Rafidimalala transition into his new community. 

After several months, Rafidimalala knew he wanted a change. Rafidimalala says, “I wanted a place where I could develop myself. A smaller college would help me develop as an athlete, a student and in my faith.” For Rafidimalala, receiving an education surrounded by people of faith was an important part of college and one of the biggest reasons that he transferred to Westmont. 

Growing up, Rafidimalala was raised in a Catholic environment. Even when he feels homesick, Rafidimalala is able to rely on God to lead him through challenges. He reflects saying, “It was helpful for me to have a faith-based life perspective. We have an advantage as believers because we can get strength from God.” 

Rafidimalala has found the community he was seeking here at Westmont. The rigorous education, fulfilling athletics and welcoming individuals of faith are exactly what Rafidimalala wanted in order to further develop his character. 

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