Palomar College can lead students to all sorts of exciting careers and Savelina Fanene, better known as Nia Jax, is a great example of that.
Before studying at Palomar College and joining its basketball team in 2002-2003, Jax passed on a sports scholarship to model in New York City.
Scouted while coming out of basketball practice one day, she described her first brush with stardom, “One of the judges was a modeling agent, and he walked up to me and said, ‘Have you ever thought about getting into plus-size modeling?’ I had never heard of that before, and I kind of laughed in his face, thinking he was kidding with me.”
The Australia-born Jax made quite a sight in the New York modeling world standing at 6 feet high and weighing 272 lbs. She remembers that it was difficult to fit in, stating, “Not everybody is made to be a size 0 or a size 4, and I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being a size 0 or a size 4.”
It was not until she found herself best suited for plus-size modeling that she found her groove saying, “Once I realized, when I became a plus-size model, that there were more women like me, my confidence immediately shot through the roof. When I was able to walk out there and show younger girls, who are like me when I was their age — who didn’t see girls who are curvier being put in a beautiful light — it just made me think that I have to be able to show these girls that they are just as beautiful as the girls who are size 0.”
Jax was also a star asset on the Palomar Comets Women’s Basketball Team. Sherry Titus, the coach at the time of her basketball career, said, “To say Lina is physically talented is an understatement; she possesses discipline, dedication, and it appears her amazing drive is still with her as she takes on this challenge. She was well respected as a student athlete while here at Palomar College, and it was a pleasure having her on our team.”
It was this talent and drive that helped lead The Comets to the Pacific Coast Conference championship in the 2002-2003 season.
Jax showed enough promise to consider entering the WNBA, The Women’s National Basketball Association, but then she witnessed WrestleMania 28 in Florida and watched Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (who is also her cousin) go against John Cena in 2012.
Upon reflection, she told the Miami Herald, “Watching “The Rock” versus John Cena, I remember turning to my aunt [Ata] and saying, ‘I have to do this,’ and she said, ‘You think you can do this?,’ and I answered, ‘I know I can do this.’ It was a feeling that overcame me that I need to do this. It is something I was meant to do.” Jax followed that feeling to work her way to Rookie of the Year Pro Wrestling 2016, and is the 2017 WWE Women’s Champion.