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emily jordan

A Few Minutes With Emily Jordan

Vince Lara-Cinisomo at the University of Illinois speaks with RST student Emily Jordan about her academic career, recent Joan Braswell Scholarship, her work with the NJACC tournament and why she chose RST.

Click here to see the full transcript.


VINCE LARA: All right, so Emily, thank you so much for joining me on this version of the podcast. The first question I wanted to ask you is what made you choose the University of Illinois?

EMILY JORDAN: Well, originally, back in 2020, when I was about to graduate with my associate's degree, I went to Danville Area Community College, where my associate's is from. My original plan, before COVID hit, I went and visited three different schools, and the U of I was one of them just because I actually only live about 45 minutes away from campus, so I grew up coming over here coming the games and stuff all the time. So I was already kind of familiar with everything. I just wanted to see what the actual school was like.

So when I visited here originally, I was thinking I was going to major in communications because that's what my associate's is in. So when I did my visit over here, I actually spoke with a communications advisor, and I told her what I wanted to do and everything, and she actually redirected me to RST, which is where I'll be graduating now. So that's how it ended up. I realized that it was a good fit for me. I'm familiar with it over here. I could live at home, save money, and everything like that, so that ended up being why I came over here.

VINCE LARA: Yeah, and that answers the second question I had for you, which was why RST? And RST does have some similarities to communications. So when you were looking into RST at first, what really appealed to you there?

EMILY JORDAN: I guess I wanted something that was very people-based. I feel like I need communication with people all the time. I don't see myself working at a sit down job. I need that interaction and everything. And so when I looked into RST more, after discussing different options with that communications advisor, I kind of figured out like, OK, these classes look really appealing to me, it all seems really enjoyable and something that could lead me to a really strong career, and it's focusing on something that I really want to do, and more sport-based.

Communications is like a big bubble, so it's really wide, and that's why you can kind of go different routes with them. So that's why I wasn't sure what it was like over here, but I realized that RST encompassed a lot of things that I wanted to learn about and kind of navigate through as I got my bachelor's degree.

VINCE LARA: Yeah, that's a good point. And you talked about it being a big bubble, but it's interesting that I noticed recently-- part of the reason I'm having Emily on the podcast is that she won the Joan Braswell Scholarship at the RST scholarship ceremony, and as part of that social media post that we did over here, it mentioned that you wanted to be an athletic director. So I wonder how you made that leap from a communications associate's degree to RST to now thinking about that as a future career?

EMILY JORDAN: Well, I took a class last semester, in the fall of 2021, and actually, that was my first semester physically on campus because my junior year, when I transferred here, everything was online. So when I came over here in person as a senior last semester, I was kind of worried and intimidated a little bit-- a big school and everything. But once I got settled down in the classes and stuff, I felt comfortable in everything.

But one of the classes that I took was Dr. Welty-Peachey's class. It's RST 430, and it's a Sport and Development class, and that was probably one of my favorite ones I've taken over here. It talks about how we can use sport as a tool to kind of help develop athletes and develop different parts of life as well as helping athletes be better in the sport that they want to be in.

And I think that kind of opened my eyes as to, OK, I think I have a passion for trying to fix the problems that are within sports because obviously, everything has issues and flaws, but I think that that's where I found my passion was that I want to keep, especially, kids and youth and high school athletes involved in sports just because I know all the benefits that come from playing and participating in them.

So that's kind of where I learned like, OK, I feel like, as an athletic director, I could help navigate athletes into the routes that they want to go in and steer them in the right direction and resolve those problems that are taking place as of today. And that's kind of where I learned that being an AD might be a good fit for me.

VINCE LARA: I'm curious about what or who inspired your love of sports.

EMILY JORDAN: So I'm the youngest of my family. I have two older brothers, and I grew up watching them play sports. They played soccer, a little bit of football, a lot of basketball, track, baseball a little bit, so I just like grew up watching them play everything and, of course, as a younger little sister, you want to do everything that your older brothers or siblings are doing.

So that's kind of how I got into playing T-ball as a little kid, and then that grew into softball, and then I played soccer just like they did and ended up playing school volleyball, and I ran a little bit of track and played basketball like them. So that's kind of where it stemmed from. I mentioned before, too, we would always as a family come over to the U of I and watch basketball games and football games. So I kind of just grew up playing them and being around them all the time. We talk about it all the time still today. So that's kind of where that all stems from.

VINCE LARA: Yeah, that makes sense. And recently, you were an announcer for the Men's National Junior College Athletic Association Division II basketball tournament. How did that come about? Did you express interest? Did someone seek you out? Tell me how that came together.

EMILY JORDAN: When I was at Danville Area Community College, I took some college classes, like dual credit classes, in high school, so I was already familiar with DACC. And then when I graduated high school, that's where I finished my associates at for that remaining one year. And one of the classes I took was like a media production class, and the assistant professor I had, her named Laura Hensgen, and she's kind of in charge of the media department there and everything, and DACC has hosted that tournament, the championship portion of the tournament for-- I think it's been 29 years, I believe. So they're very familiar with it and everything.

So they have broadcasters and the radio and the livestream come out and everything, and there was myself and another student in her class at the time that was interested in media broadcasting, media stuff, sports in general, and she just asked us if we would be interested in doing it, if that would be a good opportunity to expand our horizons a little bit and get us some experience and everything. So I'm not going to lie, I was a little intimidated just because it's a big setting and everything, but myself and the other student ended up doing it that first year of 2020.

But then, of course, COVID happened, so that season got cut short. And then when I actually came over here to the U of I my junior year, she asked me to come back, even though I wasn't a student at DACC anymore. She asked me to come back and commentate again, and so I did it with that student there that following year, as well as I did it with my dad too. So it was really cool to do it, come back and do it, and do it for a full season because I didn't get that opportunity before. But that's kind of how it all got started and everything.

VINCE LARA: You said you did it with your dad. Is your dad a broadcaster?

EMILY JORDAN: Yeah, so I live over in Vermilion County, and one of the radio stations, he will do some high school basketball games here and there. And they've asked him to do that tournament, the NJCAA tournament there, so he did that one with me. We've actually called some of the Vermilion County high school basketball tournament games together too, so it's been really fun to have that experience with my dad too because, obviously, that doesn't come around too often, but it was really a lot of fun to do it with him as well as with that teacher at DACC and the other student at DACC.

VINCE LARA: Sure, and DACC being, of course, Danville Area Community College, just for our listeners' context there. So the obvious next question to you is why not pursue sports media because it seems like you're really passionate about it and your dad is involved, and so why not go that way?

EMILY JORDAN: Well, I think it goes back to that class that I took last semester. I think that the media world obviously is a huge part of today's society and how we function and everything, how we get our information, and spread information, and stuff like that. I think it's a super unique job. Originally, I wanted to do social media or marketing for a team of some sort. That was my original thought.

But I think I was passionate about it too, and broadcasting I enjoy and everything, but I think that where my-- I want to get like a lot of fulfillment out of what I do, so I think that helping athletes in some way, making sure they stay involved in sports and, like I said, fixing the issues that are in the systems right now, I think those are really important so we can see the same participation levels throughout time and everything.

And I feel like I'll get the most fulfillment out of doing something like that versus doing a sports media type job, I would say, just because that I know I'd be helping more people in that way. Not that sports media, obviously, is any-- isn't bad or anything, but I just think I would get more fulfillment out of helping athletes and stuff like that.

VINCE LARA: Sure. Have you had a chance at all to spend any time with Josh Whitman or kind of shadow him?

EMILY JORDAN: No, but I'm going to be doing my internship as part of-- I'm not sure if you know, but the RST internship we have to do as part of our degree work requirement-- this summer, I will be doing it under the athletic director and the media productions person Laura as I mentioned before. I'll be working under them this summer at DACC as well. So that'll be, I think, a really good interesting time for me and kind of allow me to see what it's like being an AD, so I'm really looking forward to that as well.

VINCE LARA: Yeah, that's terrific. And I think to wrap up I'd like to just ask, what would you tell other students who may be in a similar situation that you were at the end of your associate's degree about RST, and how would you recommend the program to them?

EMILY JORDAN: I would say, when I was getting ready to transfer and I was looking at the schools I was looking at, the U of I seems massive. I mean, that was my initial thought, and what I told my parents and everything, but there's 50,000 to 60,000 kids that come here, and it just seems so big and everything.

But when I actually came here and visited campus and stuff and saw that it's like you know broken down into colleges and then your major and everything, I think that it helped it be more appealing to me, and also made me feel more at ease and comfortable with coming here, especially since it is so big. But in all honesty, I still feel like I'm kind of going to a community college. I'm not traveling across campus for classes or sitting in super big classes with 100 to 200 kids or anything like that. I really feel comfortable here knowing that I'm in the right major, and then with RST, I think that you're going to get a lot of experiences out of being in that major.

It's not necessarily a lot of book work. Obviously, there's things you take from text and apply it to real life, but I think it's more real life scenarios that you learn hands-on and in the classroom that can help you further on in your career. So I think that's why it was so eye-opening for me and really attractive to me to come to RST because I felt that I would get the most out of majoring in this major. So it just felt like that. It felt comfortable, it felt right, and it just, like I said, would be an awesome experience for anyone, I think, who's interested in this kind of work.

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