Online Graduate Broadens Her Horizons with Master of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management

When Ashley Spradlin graduates in May with her online Master of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management, she can immediately start applying what she has learned. 

Spradlin works as the Administrative Assistant to the Vice President/Director of Athletics and Brave Hawks Club coordinator for the Department of Athletics at Chowan University. Upon graduation, she’ll use her new degree to combine her work experience in athletics with her knowledge and interest in event and venue management. 

“Throughout the past few years of working, I have come to realize that I find enjoyment in working in the recreational and athletic fields, particularly with events. My current job responsibilities include planning certain athletic department events, such as annual banquets, homecoming, golf tournaments, etc. My previous experiences and responsibilities taught me the importance of recreation in the lives of our youth and adults.”

We caught up with Spradlin to learn more about her experience in the master’s program and congratulate our #NCStateOnline spring 2020 graduates!

Why did you pursue your master’s degree in Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management (MPRTSM) from NC State Online? 

I actually saw an advertisement for the program on Facebook in 2018. I have a business degree, so I always thought the MBA route was for me, but I could never pull the trigger on a program. I read into the PRTSM program details and was immediately interested and enrolled for fall 2018. I’m not athletic or outdoorsy as most of my classmates are, but I do like the ever-changing environment that comes with being in an athletic or recreational setting. I felt as though this program can be utilized to better my current position as well as benefit any future career changes. The online format and affordability of the program were extremely important to me and were the main deciding factors in selecting NC State.

Describe your experience in the MPRTSM program.

I had taken online courses before but never like this. The 8-week class format with weekly virtual class meetings made it easier to feel as though you were in a lecture class. The professors use the technology for group sessions which led to me personally gaining friendships with some of my classmates. Courses were challenging, but most were relatable. I was able to utilize my employer in several assignments and was even able to come up with ideas to implement into my job.

How did you balance working and completing your degree?

My work involves pushing paperwork and fundraising. With the exception of football and basketball season, my schedule isn’t too chaotic. I used my free Saturdays for homework, and when Saturdays were game days, I had to plan around when I was going to do my school work and still have free time. Balancing work, school, and life was not easy. Somehow I did it, with only a few sacrifices. I was also determined to finish by May 2020. Having that mindset helps you push through the challenging times.

How do you see your MPRTSM helping you in your current career? Has the program already impacted your current work? 

Gaining more experience in doing certain projects has helped me. I feel more confident in my ability to do certain tasks, and I was able to come up with creative ideas to implement in my work. Upon receiving my master’s degree, I will begin to seek a career that uses what I have learned throughout this program. Although I am not a former athlete, I wish to stay within the athletic realm, whether that be within the collegiate level or recreational. 

Did you have any faculty members who were particularly inspiring or stood out to you?

I try not to have favorites, but Dr. Jason Bocarro was so helpful. I took his Organization and Behavior class during a challenging time, but by the end, I felt much more at peace with things. He also set up a breakfast meeting with a couple of others in class to meet with [recently retired] Athletics Director Debbie Yow. I feel as though that was a once in a lifetime experience, and I’m grateful that he gave us that opportunity.

What is your advice for other working professionals who are thinking about continuing their education or are currently enrolled in a master’s program?

I’d say it depends on the program since not all online programs are alike. I would definitely recommend this program because of the 8-week or 5-week session set up and the virtual class meetings. It makes it seem much more involved than just playing a lecture and reading text during your own time.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience throughout the program. Although I am relieved to be done with schoolwork, I will miss the virtual time with my classmates and professors!

Do you have plans to celebrate your graduation during this time of social distancing?

My parents wanted to have a cookout. My little brother and I are “graduating” on May 9th, so I am sure we will plan something in the future. It’s somewhat of a blessing that graduations were postponed since we were both graduating the same day and two hours apart. Now my family will be able to attend both ceremonies.

Congratulations to Ashley and all NC State Online spring 2020 graduates!

Are you interested in advancing your career with a Master of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management? Visit the program page or online.ncsu.edu for a full list of degree and certificate programs.