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Student Success

Laurel Cavanagh ’23 Reflects on Her NC State Journey

Laurel Cavanagh standing in front of a statue of a wolf - Laurel Cavanagh '23 Reflects on Her NC State Journey - College of Natural Resources News NC State University

Laurel Cavanagh will graduate in December 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in sport management. She was recently selected to serve as the undergraduate speaker at this year’s commencement ceremony.

Upon graduation, Cavanagh plans to seek a job in which she can assist people in achieving their goals, whether that be in a sport-related setting or academia.

We recently spoke with Cavanagh to learn more about her experience at the College of Natural Resources and how it’s prepared her for success.

What were some of your most memorable experiences at NC State?

One of the most memorable moments during my time at NC State was the trip to Washington, D.C. with the James Buzzard Leadership Development Program. Not only did we meet incredible leaders across different industries but we were able to really get to know each other between the long bus ride, dinners and exploring the city. Another favorite memory I have is helping with the National Girls and Women in Sports Day event in the spring of 2023. Elementary school students were invited to celebrate sport with myself, other sport management students and athletes. It was such a good reminder and lesson to the children that no matter who they are, what they look like, or how old they are, they can all enjoy sport.

Did you have a favorite class and/or professor?

This is such a hard question because I have genuinely enjoyed so many of the classes I’ve taken. I really enjoyed “Diversity and Inclusion in Sport.” This class created so many good conversations around sport and recreation within the class. However, I also really enjoyed classes like “Sport Finance” and “Sport Programming and Sport Marketing.” These classes have all given me skills I have been able to use outside the classroom and in aspects of other classes. I can’t say who my favorite professor is because I have had so many. My professors have all been so passionate about what they’re teaching as well as supportive.

What motivated you to pursue a degree at the College of Natural Resources? 

I actually decided to pursue a sport management from a less traditional background. I have been teaching yoga and group fitness since receiving my associates degree from Wake Technical Community College. I absolutely loved teaching and being in the recreation industry, but I had a desire to expand my knowledge on the “background” aspects of the industry. 

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

During my time at the College of Natural Resources, I have been able to discover certain areas that really excite me and that I’d like to pursue professionally. However, what has been most beneficial is how hands-on the college is. There is a lot of out-of-classroom work that you do and a lot of networking and volunteering. These opportunities have exposed me to a lot of different types of work — and most importantly, people. Networking and creating meaningful relationships with other professionals is so important to the future.

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

Know your limits and what you can reasonably add to your schedule but take advantage of the great opportunities that will presented to you. Say “yes” to meeting someone for coffee; to volunteering; or to joining a student club. You will meet so many great people and learn so much through these different opportunities.