OU Athletics hosted its annual Passport to Your Future event this week at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. This interactive career-focused event was coordinated by the OU Athletics Student Life Department and the Varsity O Association. The two-hour session was open to all OU student-athletes, but was particularly directed towards juniors and seniors who are mapping out plans for their post-OU career.
The premise of Passport to Your Future is simple: helping current and former OU student-athletes establish relationships for personal and career development after college. The event serves as a way to provide community members the opportunity to connect, and in some cases, mentor current student-athletes.
Attendees included over 70 professionals from a wide range of vocations and disciplines as well as approximately 200 OU student-athletes from all 21 athletic teams. Whether it was educators, financial advisors, lawyers, medical practitioners, energy developers or real estate investors, a plethora or potential career paths and professional connections were opened up to the Sooners in attendance.
One of those student-athletes in attendance was Destinee Martinez, a senior on the OU Softball squad, who shared some thoughts.
“I chose to go to help me plan a future for myself and get to know some people that could possibly help me with internships or jobs once I graduate,” she said. “I was able to take away a few phone numbers and email addresses to follow up and also lots of knowledge and tips on how to get a career started.”
Specifically, Martinez connected with a couple individuals who she believes may be helpful resources for her.
“I talked to Marilyn Korhonen about getting into a master’s program and spending time with young women in need. I also talked to Stacey Clement, a police recruiter who I hope to get an internship with over the fall of 2014.”
But student-athletes weren’t the only individuals who saw the value of Passport to Your Future. One of those professionals event was the "Voice of the Sooners" Toby Rowland, who provided several takeaways of his own.
“When I was a student, it was so beneficial to actually meet people who were in the field I wanted to go into,” he said. “First-hand advice is priceless. I had a great experience last year meeting OU student athletes who were interested in the field of sports broadcasting. I found myself as excited for their future as they are.”
Passport to Your Future looks not only to foster relationships between student-athletes and those in the working world, but also to provide an environment where student-athletes will be supported and inspired to pursue their dreams off the field.
"It is important to the OU community to learn about networking skills, meet people in the community that may be able to shed light on their area of interest for a career and to have conversations about making connections and networking for the future,” added Carol Ludvigson, Director of Student-Athlete Development and former OU women's head golf coach.
Events such as Passport to Your Future are important for student-athletes to network themselves in fields outside the realm of athletics on account of the fact that less than 10 percent of NCAA student-athletes go on to play their sport at the professional level.
Passport to Your Future is just one of the many resources provided to OU student-athletes to help them fulfill their potential as the Sooners develop champions today and leaders for tomorrow.