Anything is possible with passion and hard work. That’s the message students took away from keynote speaker, CPHHS alum and OSU Women’s Basketball Head Coach Scott Rueck at the College of Public Health and Human Sciences’ first Career Symposium held April 10.
With a light-hearted ability to poke fun at himself, Scott might not look the part of a basketball coach, but he is the perfect example of a person who never gives up, despite the odds.
“You’re looking at a 5’4” guy who never played basketball, and now I’m a Pac-12 head basketball coach,” he says to a packed room. “Anything is possible.”
Scott, who graduated from the CPHHS with both an undergraduate and master’s degree in Exercise and Sport Science, credits the program as playing a role in his success.
A dynamic speaker, Scott shared the story of his earliest stints at coaching and landing his dream job as OSU’s women’s basketball coach, including turning the program around in four short years.
“I get out of bed knowing I’m impacting people’s lives every day,” says Scott, who led his team to the 2014 NCAA Tournament in a record-setting season. “I get to do what I’m good at and what I love. Passion outweighs everything, and you have to be true to yourself.
He emphasized hard work, integrity, perseverance, the importance of mentors and mentoring others, working through adversity, and bringing passion and commitment to pursuing and fulfilling your dream.
“Passion outweighs everything, and you have to be true to yourself.”
“My team was inspiring to watch this season because they believed they were going to be successful and they invested everything they had,” Scott says. “That’s what everyone should do.”
“Scott crushed it!” says MPH student Jessica Johnson. “Basketball provides a great analogy to life, and he was so inspirational.”
In addition to the powerful speech, more than 150 students who attended the career symposium learned a variety of skills including resume writing/interviewing, working with the media, managing finances, focusing the graduate school search, getting involved, networking, exploring careers, working with diverse populations, and balancing work, school and life.
“I think it’s great the college is setting the foundation for students to be successful,” Jessica says. “To see the connection from the classroom to here is great, and you can tell the organizers used a lot of student input into planning session topics and listening to students’ interests and needs.”
“It was really informative and nice to have access to all this information in one place,” says Human Development and Family Sciences student Kimberly Baird. “Definitely keep doing it!”
“The content of the symposium was rich with valuable information to strengthen and enrich students’ professional toolbox,” says CPHHS Coordinator of Recent Alumni and Career Readiness Initiatives Kim McAlexander. “I am so impressed with all of the speakers, panelists and keynote speaker. They exceeded my expectations.”
“To see the connection from the classroom to here is great.”
Among the speakers presenting in more than 15 sessions was Senitila McKinley, volunteer director of Seashore Family Literacy – a community-based, nonprofit organization in Waldport, Oregon, dedicated to helping children, adults and families improve reading, writing, math, computer and communication skills.
Senitila, who hails from Tonga, spoke about the program she started as well as how to identify misinformation, embrace a diverse workplace and serve those who need it most.
“To transform and sustain goodness and health in this country, we need to know where we come from,” Senitila says. “We lack a sense of community and need to work together as a community to communicate on how to move forward.”
Senitila, who did not attend college but instead uses her life’s experiences as a tool to help others, says in order to “provide good,” you need to accept those around you for who they are, and do what you can to lead them toward success.
“Know the people you serve,” she says. “Our degrees can sometimes be a barrier to those we feel called to serve. The only way to teach leadership is to let youth lead.”
This first college career symposium proved the need for career-centered workshops for students and showed widespread support of campus partners including those who set up booths or presented on topics such as study abroad, graduate programs, Career Services and more.
“We were so grateful for the dedication our campus showed for students’ success,” says MPH Internship Coordinator Faith Vawter.
Having combined the career symposium with a reception thanking internship preceptors and site supervisors, organizers created the opportunity for students to network with potential future employers and for the college to thank preceptors for all the work they do.
“The work we do as educators is to prepare our students to be critical-thinkers and skilled professionals; the work our preceptors and site supervisors do is to show students how to apply that knowledge and become the catalyst for real change,” Faith says. “We, as a college, are so fortunate to have such dedicated and supportive internship preceptors and site supervisors. We are so thrilled we could celebrate them at the appreciation reception.”
“This was a great first career symposium,” Kim says. “Our goal is that this will be a college annual event and we will use the feedback to make next year even bigger and better.”
Learn Coach Scott’s keys to success:
- Aimless doesn’t work. Have a clear vision of what you want to do and what you’re passionate about.
- Crush it. You have to be good; you have to be competent. Get rid of weakness and strive to be the best.
- Initiative. Do everything in your power to show initiative in your life.
- Adversity. Keep trying. Never quit. Stay strong. “Bring it” and embrace it. Never whine, always fight and work like a dog.
- Find your Yoda. Find a mentor who can offer advice. Lean on them and ask questions. Also draw on the experiences of those in a similar position and give back and mentor those younger.