Kelsey Bumgarner (’09) On How Majoring In English Prepared Her To Champion Student-Athletes


Kelsey Bumgarner (above) graduated from Whitworth in 2009 with a degree in English (literature), followed by her Masters in Sports Administration & Leadership at Seattle University in 2011. She now lives in Portland, OR, and works in the athletics department at Lewis & Clark College.

Kelsey recently sent this update to the Whitworth English blog:

At the time I graduated from Whitworth, I knew I was headed to Seattle University to pursue my master’s in Sports Administration & Leadership. I had worked in the Whitworth athletics department for four years, culminating in a senior year internship that solidified my desire to continue working in collegiate athletics.
While at SU, I became an intern for the Northwest Conference office while also working in the Seattle U athletics department, first within the ticketing department for men’s basketball in their first full season at KeyArena, and then as an Athletics Communications Assistant, handling men’s and women’s cross country, swimming, and indoor/outdoor track & field.
My time in Seattle taught me many things, least of which was that my education at Whitworth trained me how to think in ways that many of my peers had never been introduced to. While I was never more grateful for the ability to write a 15-20 page research paper with ease (thank you Doug, Leonard, and Laura), the real value was in the components of a liberal arts education that gave me a holistic mindset and a set of skills that was easily transferable.
I am now in my second year as the Athletics Development & Sports Information Assistant at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR, a position created through a grant from the NCAA. I gained this position through that annoyingly cliché yet oh-so-truthful push made by career counselors everywhere: networking. It was through my internship at the NWC office during grad school that I met athletics administrators at all levels in our membership colleges and universities, and with a little insider knowledge gained from my continued relationship with Steve Flegel in the Whitworth office, I was in the perfect position to contact the L&C department before the position had even been posted on job boards.
I love my job. I do a lot of things, but work mainly with alumni and parents through our booster club, the Pioneer Athletics Club, in putting on events structured around competitions to help the fundraising efforts that supplement our programs. The best part is I get to talk about something I love (our student-athletes and sports) with people who are already invested (in their children and Lewis & Clark), and aid the process of them not only staying connected, but recognizing the opportunity they have to make a significant difference in the L&C student-athlete experience through a financial contribution.
I wish I had a dollar for every odd look I get when people ask what I majored in during college, but the truth is I use my degree every single day. I write feature stories, compile newsletters, analyze information, and communicate with many departments across campus. I may not be studying the Romantic movement through Whitman or the moral dilemma facing Anna Karenina, but the same skills I learned in order to do well in Westminster I now utilize to do well in my career. I like to think I make my major work for me, not the other way around.

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