Graduates of the sport and recreation management program at Texas A&M University-Commerce are finding success from coast to coast according to Dr. Clay Bolton, assistant professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance.
“We’ve been fortunate to have outstanding students in our undergraduate sport and recreation management program,” said Bolton. “Dr. Samantha Roberts and I are humbly blessed to serve students who want to learn and be successful in the sport and recreation industry.”
Savannah Rutledge, a four-year starter for the Lions volleyball team and a leader in the classroom, graduated from the program in May 2020. She’s now pursuing her master’s degree while working as a graduate assistant in the athletic department at Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I’m grateful for the resources and opportunities provided by A&M-Commerce which allow students to network throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” Rutledge said. “The connections I made helped me land my internship with ‘Visit Frisco’ and my graduate assistant position at TCU.”
Nick Petitti, a member of the Lions football team and a campus leader with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, graduated with honors in August 2020. Petitti is now earning his master’s degree at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon while working as a graduate assistant with one of the world’s top sport marketing professors, Dr. Bettina Cornwell.
“The Department of Health and Human Performance at A&M-Commerce gave me a place to shine off of the football field,” Petitti said. “Dr. Bolton and Dr. Roberts are, without a doubt, the reason I got into the graduate program of my choice.”
Isiah Henry also graduated from the program in August after rising to serve as a supervisor for Campus Recreation at A&M-Commerce following several years in the department. He recently became a facilities and operations graduate assistant for campus recreation at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville while pursuing his master’s degree in sport and exercise psychology.
“My time in the program was fantastic. I met people who will forever be family and I had the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research and case study competitions,” Henry said. “I will always be grateful for the time that so many people invested in me during my time at A&M-Commerce.”
Rutledge, Petitti and Henry were members of the A&M-Commerce case study competition team. They presented their undergraduate research at the Applied Sport Management Association Conference at Baylor University in Waco, Texas in February 2020.
Zenobia Winbush, a 2016 graduate of the program and former letter winner for the women’s basketball team, credits the sport and recreation management program for helping find her calling.
“I met professors who understood the challenges of being a student-athlete, including Dr. Bolton,” Winbush said.
As a requirement of the program, Winbush interned for the Texas Revolution, a professional indoor football team. She stayed with the team after graduating from A&M-Commerce and eventually found her niche in graphic design. She is now a graphic designer for the National Football League at their headquarters in New York, New York. “My time at A&M-Commerce was a life-changing experience for me,” Winbush said.
Bolton said he and Roberts are proud of their former students’ success, as well as many other alumni from the program.
“Savannah, Isiah, Nick and Zenobia worked hard in the classroom, utilized their networking skills and took advantage of every experiential opportunity they had,” Bolton said. “They are shining examples and role models for future students in the program.”
Dr. Kimberly McLeod, dean of the College of Education and Human Services at A&M-Commerce couldn’t agree more with Bolton’s assessment.
“It’s exciting to see what a strong academic foundation at A&M-Commerce can do to support students’ future growth,” McLeod said. “I hope these alumni provide inspiration to current and future students, illustrating that dreams really do become reality. Go Lions!”