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Graduation to Vocation: Promoting Student Athletes

ellie poses with friends

Ellie Rinehart is a recent graduate who received an undergraduate degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management (PRTM), with a concentration in Sport Management. She is a recipient of the PRTM Student Success Scholarship. Upon graduation, Ellie will be pursuing graduate school.

How has the College of Natural Resources impacted you and prepared you for your future?

I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of the College of Natural Resources for the last two years at NC State. I changed my major quite a few times, but I found a home in the College of Natural Resources. This college has the most caring professors, whose main goal is to see you succeed. I believe that this experience has prepared me to be in the sports industry.

Tell us about a faculty member who influenced you.

I transferred into the College of Natural Resources during my sophomore year and was given Dr. Kimberly Bush as an advisor. She assisted me in navigating my entire experience in the College of Natural Resources. Not only was she my advisor but I got to experience her in the classroom when I took Sport Administration. She truly cares about the success of her students and has an open-door policy if you ever need to talk. I also got the pleasure of being her TA for the Spring 2020 semester. She has shown me great leadership and passion for the sports industry.

What is unique about you or your work?

1. I have been a NC State and sports fan all of my life

2. I grew up in a small town on the east coast of North Carolina.

3. My family owns an agricultural farm.

What motivated you to pursue your work?

Being raised in a gym with a ball at my feet as my mother taught by day and coached by night, I was destined to be instilled with the spirit of an athlete. The spirit was not just mere exposure; it was an ingrained sense of teamwork, equality, perseverance and persistence to pursue the end goal at a very early age. The end goal was academics and athletics as my parents pushed me to excel in both.

As I grew older, the athletics spectrum served as an outlet, somewhere I could be my true self, not having to live up to others’ expectations, only my own. A three-sport athlete and labeled athlete of the year, yet what does it mean if one can’t use the skills, attitude and determination to succeed moving forward outside of the sport? I began to view sports with a different lens. The countless hours of practice and games suddenly shaped me into who I was becoming off the athletic field. I learned valuable skills through sports that have continued to guide me through everyday life. I will use the skills sports has taught me to become a future sports marketer on the collegiate level.

My goal will not be to exploit the athlete but to reveal their talents as role models as they represent the University and themselves. I was taught at an early age that your athletic gift will fade away eventually, but your academic success can never be taken with a mere injury. Promoting academic athletes like Debbie Yow has done is something I want to continue in the future. As I pursue a career in Sports Management, it’s not the fleeting star I seek to exploit; it’s the wandering eye of the unconfident child looking for that unsung hero to serve as a role model for the next great that is to come.

What advice would you give students entering your major or field?

Two pieces of advice I would give students entering this major or even college is to stay true to yourself throughout your entire college experience and take every opportunity you can in the field to help you succeed.