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Fellowship Recap: Michelle Calica (MSA '18)

Tuesday, December 27 2016 12:00am

                                                Michelle Headshot

In March 2015, I received a phone call from Jim Kahler informing me of my acceptance into Ohio University’s MBA/MSA dual degree program. Prior to starting my coursework, I was offered a fellowship position as a Development Assistant for the University of Nevada Athletic Department. As a proud Nevada alumna, I graciously accepted this position not knowing the profound impact it would make on myself and my career.

My undergraduate major was in marketing, and when I applied for OHIO I had my eyes set on a career in marketing for college athletics. I loved the fan experience and creating a special, unique atmosphere that engages the community. I had never worked in development prior to accepting this role, and I did not know what to expect. The development team welcomed me with open arms, showing me the importance of their roles and how mine would fit in with them. My role focused on donor relations, ticketing, special events, sports specific fundraising and graphic design.

Within my first two weeks on the job, we held one of our major donor events of the year: the Governor’s Dinner. Almost 1,000 donors attended the event with Colin Kaepernick as the keynote speaker. This was my first interaction with donors and I began to develop relationships with them that fostered throughout my year at Nevada. I quickly learned the importance of building strong and meaningful relationships with donors and that they are integral to the success of student-athletes and the athletics department.

I designed the promotional and marketing materials that assisted with the launch of two new major initiatives: This Is Still YOUR Team and Scholarship Pack. This Is Still YOUR Team is a campaign that aims to reconnect former student-athletes to Nevada Athletics and show them that they are still a part of the Wolf Pack family. 

Over 2,000 former student-athletes were contacted and encouraged to come back to the family. Scholarship Pack connects donors at the $10,000 level and above with a student-athlete to develop a relationship, showing donors the effect that their dollars make on the personal, academic and athletic lives of student-athletes. These two initiatives provided me with a deep intrinsic motivation to fundraise for student-athlete success, showing me first-hand how important our support is and the difference that it makes.

Through practical experience, this fellowship opened my eyes to the inner workings of a college athletics program and the role of development within it. While I remain interested in marketing, my passion now lies in development, supporting student-athlete success, and fostering meaningful relationships with donors and fans who support our mission. Because of this fellowship, I am now hoping to pursue a career in development for intercollegiate athletics.

I cannot stress how much the fellowship program has impacted my career and how important it is for prospective students to consider. Entering the MBA/MSA program with full-time work experience created a solid foundation in which to apply coursework and real-world experiences to draw upon during in-class discussions. I am grateful to Doug Knuth, David Sabolcik, Lisa Anderson, and the entire development department at the University of Nevada for my amazing experience.

                                Nevada

Go Wolf Pack and Bobcats!