Assistant Professor, Sport Management, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education
What year did you start working at NIU?
Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
My hometown is Glenview, Illinois. I now live in Oak Park, Illinois.
Where did you attend college and what degree(s) have you earned?
Doctorate in sport management from University of Kansas (2019)
Master's in sport administration from Northwestern University (2016)
Bachelor's in hospitality management from Iowa State University (2013)
In which department(s) do you teach?
Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education
What do you like about working at NIU?
I really enjoy the sense of community NIU provides. This was evident the moment I stepped on campus at the department, college and university levels. Students, faculty and staff seem to enjoy being Huskies, and that goes a long way in being able to enjoy showing up to work every day!
What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
Take advantage of your resources and don't be afraid to talk to your professor. Just from my short time here, it is clear that NIU has several resources available to students to aid in their academic success and beyond. This includes so many extracurricular options that NIU has to offer, whether it's clubs, rec sports, etc. Be involved!
Furthermore, students should take advantage of talking to their professors. Whether it's in office hours or briefly before or after class, getting to know your instructors and not being afraid to ask questions can be an important tool for student success.
Tell us about a research or engaged learning project you have led.
I led research within the student-athlete setting. The purpose of the research was to examine the implementation of higher education high-impact practices in the student-athlete academic setting and the barriers to their implementation on the administrative and student athlete-level, according to student-athlete support services staff. This specific study identified barriers that included university control of HIPs, differences in attitudes between coaches and academic staff, lack of funding or resources, and student-athlete time commitment. This was published in the Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics (JIIA) and featured in Athletic Director U, Inside Higher Education, KU News and NCAA Academic Summit.
What do you hope students take away from your class?
I love helping students craft their passions and explore the sport management industry. In my courses, I am intentional in connecting students to professionals in the field through guest speaker opportunities to help them gain a greater understanding of where they can be five, 10 or 20 years from now. It's always great when students discover jobs, organizations or information they never knew existed to help craft their passions in and out of the classroom.
Who has influenced your professional path?
My parents have certainly influenced my professional path. As a first-generation student, education has always been important to me. Growing up in Jordan, both my mother and father were never educated past elementary school. They both lived in the country during tumultuous times in the region, particularly regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, prior to immigrating to the U.S. in the late 70s/early 80s. Although my parents did not have the same opportunities as I did growing up, they were still able to instill the value of education at a young age. While I did not always think I would be a college professor, their efforts to ensure I valued my education was something I always thought about as I progressed academically. I am fortunate to be able to instill this value in my everyday life as a faculty member.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I actually wanted to be a meteorologist growing up. I originally entered Iowa State University as a meteorology major, but quickly came to realize that physics was not my forte. I switched my major to hospitality management and ultimately spent time working at Marriott for several years. During my time at Iowa State, I was also involved in the athletics department working as an event management assistant. I think this is really what helped spark my passion for the sport management industry, prompting me to complete my master's and Ph.D. in the field.
Are you a member of or hold a position within a professional organization? If so, what organization? What is the purpose of that organization and how does being part of this organization benefit you in your role at NIU?
I'm involved with the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM). This organization offers opportunities to connect with both researchers and professionals in the industry. At the annual conference, it is always great to be able to get up-to-date on the research that is being conducted in the field and work to find collaborators across the country and world. As a Ph.D. student, I held the position of NASSM student representative and was responsible for organizing a panel at the annual conference.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I love being around family and friends. I enjoy attending the many amazing festivals that the Chicagoland area has to offer. I enjoy being outside at a local park playing tennis or volleyball (not well), being at the beach or attending a game at Wrigley Field. I love exploring new restaurants and recommendations. I enjoy boxing at the gym and adventures with my dog to relax and recharge.