For 16 years, I have been a student-athlete. I started playing co-ed basketball at my local community center when I was 6 years-old. I continued to play in spring and summer leagues to improve my skills and keep busy after school. Basketball became the family sport, as both my older and younger sister continued to play as well. Summers were filled with trips across the country to participate in Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) tournaments. After 6th grade, I even left the charter school I was attending so that I could play basketball at the middle school level. In high school, I was a member of the varsity team all 4 years, where in my junior season we were 2nd in the state and my senior year I was named Cedar Run District Player of the Year. Then it was off to college.

Playing Division I basketball had always been the goal having put in years of blood, sweat, and tears. But after my freshman season at Hampton University, in which we won the MEAC regular season and conference championship that lead us into the first round of the NCAA tournament, I had to reevaluate my goals. I had finally won a championship, and at the collegiate level, but I realized how insignificant being a basketball player was in the grand scheme of my life. I recognized that basketball had a quickly approaching expiration date, and I needed new long term goals. Basketball had allowed me to know success, failure, hardship, hard work, goal-setting, goal-reaching, and even receiving a “free” education. But college basketball only lasts four years, so I needed to figure out what was next for me and my life.

Education lasts a lifetime, experience is the greatest teacher, and taking advantage of opportunities is key to achieving success.

I graduated summa cum laude from the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications at Hampton University with a 3.92 GPA. I studied hard throughout my four years at Hampton and made sure that while being a student-athlete, the student always came first.

To supplement what I was learning in the classroom, I was able to complete four internships in the field of communications before graduating. These internships helped me to utilize skills in a practical way while also gaining work experience that has prepared me for life after school. Playing collegiate sports was a unique experience that also contributed greatly to my skill sets and enhance my time at Hampton.

Taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves has been an important lesson and mindset that I hope to carry with me throughout the rest of my career and life. Playing Division I basketball is in no way, shape, or form,easy. It is mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing. Even still, I would not have traded my college experience for anything. There were many times where I wanted to quit and make school my full-time responsibility, but I am not one for breaking commitments. I was given the opportunity to play basketball in exchange for a college education, and took advantage. I learned a lot from my teammates, coaches, the athletic department, and the overall experience of representing my university. Although I knew playing at the collegiate level was my final objective with basketball, I capitalized on the opportunity so that it could benefit my life as a whole.

Athletes can be successful in and outside of the classroom. Many aspire to play their respective sports at a professional level, but at some point need to realize that sports can only get you so far. I am glad that I realized this when I did in my career, and took advantage of the opportunity to find my passions outside of sports. I am currently interning in D.C. at Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations and communications firm. I plan to continue my professional career as a star public relations practitioner, and retire my basketball shoes and jersey.

In the fall I will be attending American University to gain a master’s in strategic communications. Next year will be my first year of schooling without any athletic obligations, which should be interesting and come with its own advantages and disadvantages. I still plan on going back to school again to receive my MBA, but one degree at a time.