Public Relations and Sponsorship Manager at Big Rafter Entertainment
If I had to pick just one favorite memory of William Woods University, I assure you that I could not do it! Narrowing it down, one of my favorite memories was the opportunity to show horses at Color Breed Congress during my junior and senior years with other western seat students and Equestrian Studies professor Jennifer Petterson. Another favorite memory was being part of the Alpha Phi sorority. It was great being part of a community of motivated and intelligent women who cheered each other on and helped each other grow. Some of these women are still my best friends to this day!
Still another experience I remember is when we put together a one-day camp for kids at William Woods, where each department on campus taught a lesson to the children. We took the money from that effort and donated it to one of the native tribes in South Africa. It was touching to see how we could make a difference in their lives from all the way across the world.
But my absolute favorite WWU memory of all time was going on multiple Woods Around the World trips and participating in Project 123. I was able to travel to Ireland, Scotland, Turkey, Greece, South Africa, Spain, Italy, France, Monaco, The Vatican, New Zealand, and Australia, and absolutely loved it!For example, when we were on a safari in South Africa, we had a flustered bull elephant come so close to our jeep that it made us all a little bit nervous, but it was such a cool experience!
Irons in the fire
The most important thing that I learned from my time at William Woods is that it is okay to have a lot of irons in the fire as long as you focus on those that are the most important. I had a lot of organizations I was involved in at The Woods, so when it came time for me to graduate and look for jobs, I had a big network I could use moving into my career. I could use these “irons” to get set up for graduation. One was my passion for traveling, one was my network established through my sorority, and another was through the equestrian department.
If you want to be involved and make connections, William Woods is the place to do it. Even though it’s a small school, there are so many amazing opportunities for students.
Traveling the United States
I am originally from Warrenton, Missouri, which is about an hour from William Woods. I knew since about 8th grade that I wanted to go to William Woods. My parents wanted me to explore different options, but I knew that is what I wanted to do. I completed my undergraduate degree and then also received my Masters degree at The Woods while working as a graduate assistant. I knew I wanted to apply for Miss Rodeo Missouri, and once I won the title, I was able to travel all over the U.S. since I was finished with my schooling.
The William Woods Equestrian Department gave me the Saturday off that I needed to compete in the pageant and they all cheered me on before the competition. They were all supportive and excited when I won the title. Dr. (Paul) Schiltz, Jennifer Petterson, Melissa Purvis, and all of the other professors were there the whole way if I had any questions about horse soundness, health, or anything else that I needed to know for my title. My job was to be there as an equestrian graduate assistant, but they supported me with all my activities outside of the position. They even came to my coronation party in January after I finished my degree! It was amazing to see how my classmates, professors, and coworkers turned into family.
In college, I had the opportunity to travel the world and then Miss Rodeo Missouri gave me an opportunity to travel the country. I traveled to Iowa, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Florida, Nevada, and so many other places representing the professional sport of rodeo. I am glad I was able to immerse myself in something that I am so passion about and use the knowledge I gained from William Woods.
Find a job you love
While I was representing as Miss Rodeo Missouri, I worked at Central Bank in Fulton. They were so incredibly supportive of the time I needed to pursue my equestrian passion. I competed for Miss Rodeo America and when I came back from that position, I had a few of job offers in the rodeo world. I accepted a position as a sponsorship and public relations manager for a rodeo production company located in Oklahoma. I work from home throughout the week and travel for our PRCA and PBR events. I was scared to work from home at first, but it has taught me time management and the importance of communication. Most importantly, it has taught me how to manage my home life while balancing an amazing career that makes me happy.
I think a lot of people do not find a job that sets their soul on fire and I think it is so important for your career to be your passion. I did not even know this job existed when I was in college, but because of all thoseirons I had in the fire, I made connections and found my dream position.
My day-to-day activities involve staying connected to corporate partners, talking to local sponsors, and raisingfundingfor events. I also co-manage the marketing and social media for the company. I have started helping with videography for some of the stock at our events so that we can submit footage to see if our stock can go to Circuit Finals and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at the end of the year. I help with anything from ordering team gear, to organizing emergency services, and securing entertainment.
I usually drive to events and my longest drive so far has been a little over seven hours. I try to arrive before noon and then meet with the sponsors and get our event set up.
My favorite part of my job is networking. Everywhere I go, I meet a variety of people that are involved in different parts of rodeo. The rodeo community is like a big family. The people you meet are so kind and would give you the shirt off their back. On the same time, they expect you to pull your weight and do your job. In rodeo, you are in a community that is always pushing you to improve and do your absolute best. Working as a sponsor manager, it is so much fun securing a new sponsor and welcoming them into that rodeo family.
Advice for students
I did not know the position I am in now actually existed, but because of the rodeo community, networking, and hard work, I ended up here. So, do not be afraid to work hard and give 110%. There will be some long, hot days and cold nights in the equestrian business, and that can be intimidating. But if you put in the time, the community notices and you will achieve your goals.