Six short years ago I graduated from the University of Arizona as a 2008 recipient of a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Since my first semester at the U of A in M.C.B., to today where I find myself in a much different field, opportunity and unpredictability have ruled my life’s progression. In the beginning, my curiosity for life science and desire to have the chance to pursue a career in the research or medical field drove me to select the M.C.B. program. Each class within the program provided information regarding the latest research, theories, and discoveries in the area of Molecular and Cellular Biology. However, beyond knowledge specific to biological processes, it also taught me how to think critically and overcome challenges, qualities that have universal application to every aspect of my life.
So what career path did this experience ultimately lead to? It is not a career in the research or medical field as I expected, but instead in the world of collegiate athletics. I am going into my fourth season with Kansas State University Football. Currently, I hold the position of Offensive Graduate Assistant Coach while also I pursuing a graduate degree in College Student Services. In 3 seasons so far here, I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of a winning program (10-3, 11-2, 8-5), a #1 ranking, 3 Bowl Bids, 1 Bowl Championship, a Heisman Trophy Finalist, and a Big 12 Championship.
Since a young age, I’ve had a passion for football, but knew I did not possess the skills necessary to pursue an extended playing career in it. Concurrent with my work in the M.C.B. program at the U of A, I served three years as an equipment manager for the football program. During that time, I discovered my desire to pursue coaching football as a profession. The position I held as a manager allowed me to have a close relationship with the coaches and be exposed to the nuances of the profession itself. Upon graduation in Spring 2008, I enrolled in graduate courses to have the opportunity to stay with the Arizona Football Program. I served as a volunteer student coach for the 2008 season, culminating with a win in the Las Vegas Bowl. Following that season, I left Arizona to accept the position of Assistant Coach at Division III Menlo College in Atherton, CA, coaching Wide Receivers for two seasons.
In July 2011, I got the opportunity to join the K-State Football program, first as a Quality Control Assistant, then as a Graduate Assistant. A critical element that led to my opportunity here was professional networking that started at the U of A. Coach Dana Dimel was an Offensive Coach with Arizona during my tenure there. I spent most of my time working for him as a manager and volunteer coach. His return to K-State following the 2008 season played a major role in the opportunity I was given in 2011 to join Coach Bill Snyder’s staff. This experience taught me how important every decision and personal/professional connection you make in life can be.
The insight afforded to me from the M.C.B. Program at the U of A helped me to grow personally, academically, and professionally. The most impactful thing it taught me was to constantly pursue whatever it is you are most passionate about. As a student my passion was in sciences, but I realized as I progressed that I had an increasing desire to enter the coaching profession with football. Today I find myself as hungry as ever to continue learning and advance further in this profession. However, I continually reflect back to my experience as an undergraduate. I take from it the value of all the knowledge I gained and the personal connections I made. Perhaps most importantly, I am grateful for the accomplishment of the degree I received and am fully aware that without it, I would not have the opportunities I enjoy today.