What are some of your responsibilities at Texas A&M Athletics Department?
I currently serve in a hybrid role that involves athletic academic advising and leadership development for all of our student-athletes. The Texas A&M Student-Athlete Engagement team works collaboratively to support our students in both personal and professional development. Some of my specific areas of oversight include our first-year experience program; civic engagement and voter education; team specific programming that allows our programs to select from a “menu” of workshops that range in topics from money matters to healthy masculinity; and our women’s leadership programming, “We3 — women: encourage, equip and empower.”
What is the most satisfying aspect of your work with student athletes?
I get to watch student-athletes far exceed any athletic and academic expectation they set for themselves. I watch them grow up, I watch them break records, I watch them go through their first heartbreak, I watch them face immense personal challenges and I watch them overcome huge obstacles. But, ultimately, I watch them succeed — both in the classroom, in the community and in their respective playing arena. In essence, I get to walk through life with these incredible students and I do not take it for granted.
How does diversity come into play in your role?
In my role specifically, I’ve been challenged to continuously review the evolving definition of diversity. I have to ask myself, “Are my words and actions inclusive of others that don’t look, identify, feel and live the same way I do?” We then apply those same questions to programming, guest speakers, employers and other partners that we choose to collaborate with. Personal and professional development can be facilitated in multiple ways and knowing who our target audience is and what our program goals are most definitely forces me to reevaluate if the message applies to all and leaves everyone in attendance feeling seen, heard and empowered.
Did you play any sports in high school, college or professionally?
I did not play high school or collegiate sports. I was a member of the Georgia Recruitment Team (UGA ’08, ’10) and Arch Society which provided gateways for me to be a volunteer-turned-student worker-turned-graduate assistant in the UGA Football Recruiting Office during my tenure at UGA. In that role I was exposed to members of their student-athlete academic staff who provided me with opportunities in their unit as well, which led to my current career.
What’s the best movie you’ve seen and what did you like about it?
I cannot pinpoint a best movie, but a classic that I love and own is Steel Magnolias. I was raised around strong, lively, passionate Southern women (my mom, grandmother and aunts) and there’s something about that movie that resonates with me.
What do you think the biggest challenge has been in your role during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Reevaluating the art of effective communication and the ability to read yourself and those that you interact with on a regular basis (in both my professional and personal lives).
What would you recommend to a student-athlete who wants to use their platform to get more involved with mainstream campus activities and/or social activism?
Get out of your comfort zone and get involved! Find activities and groups that you are genuinely interested in and align with your personal values and be willing to “walk your talk.” If you want your platform to be maximized, you need to work on increasing your relationship currency with different groups that will assist you in elevating that platform; basically invest in others so that they in turn feel comfortable investing [in] and supporting you. Make sure to get out on campus and meet your peers, meet your professors, meet your campus faculty and staff. This will involve sacrificing the little extra time that you have, but your intentional actions will make all the difference.
Would you rather be a contestant on the “Dancing With the Stars” or “The Masked Singer” and why?
Dancing with the Stars — their coaches/partners have the ability to make anyone look good!
This article originally appeared in the December 10, 2020 edition of Diverse. You can find it here.