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Alex Dam is a 2017 graduate of the RST program
Alex Dam is a 2017 graduate of the RST program

Alumni Spotlight—Alex Dam

Alumni of the College of Applied Health Sciences have myriad career options thanks to the tremendous diversity of programs. We periodically will put the spotlight on an alum to find out what they're doing now, what experiences they had and what AHS means to them. This week, we talk to Alex Dam, who got his degree in 2017 in Recreation, Sport, and Tourism with a focus on Sport and a Minor in Communications and who is now a Associate Manager Content Strategy at NBC Sports.

Q: Why did you pick AHS?

A: I picked AHS due to my interest in the RST program. Recreation, Sport, and Tourism is one of the largest growing industries in the world today and I just knew I wanted to be a part of it. I had a concentration on Sport and really enjoyed both learning and experiencing how much sport brought people together and helped improve quality of life. Sport brought me closer to my loved ones and has helped me create lifelong friendships and when I figured out, I could study this field, I knew I had to take advantage of this opportunity.

Q: Which professors had the most impact on you?

A: Although no longer with the University of Illinois, both Dr. Nuno Ribeiro and LoriKay Paden left a great impact on me during my time at Illinois. Both would walk into class with all the energy in the world, whether it was a 9 a.m. RST 330 (Programming) course or a post-lunch 2 p.m. RST 410 (Administration of Leisure Services) course. Both helped me develop academically in the classroom and professionally outside of it. I have maintained contact with both and have enjoyed seeing them on their journeys as well as sharing mine.

Q: What course did you most enjoy?

A: The course I enjoyed the most was RST 484! A combination of real work experience and finally seeing all your course work pay off was very special. The culmination of my four years at Illinois combined with the start of my professional career made this course truly special. During my internship, I was able to meet and develop friendships with other RST in my program that I did not have the chance to meet on campus and this helped expand my AHS network.

Q: Did you enter AHS knowing your career path, or did AHS help you decide?

A: I did not enter AHS knowing my career path. This was scary to admit and one that I think many students also worry about. AHS helped me decide my career path by developing a curriculum that exposes their students to professional settings. The practicum/internship allowed me to determine what I did/did not want in a career and that is very important. It helped me mold my ideal career without me knowing it at the time.

Q:Did your AHS experience lead to your current job?

A: My AHS experience did lead me to my current job. The internship I pursued during my final semester at Illinois allowed me to secure my first full-time job at ESPN (Format Analyst), which in turn led me to my current role at NBC Sports (Associate Manager Content Strategy).

Q: What was your favorite on-campus experience

A: My favorite on-campus experience is developing lifelong friendships with fellow students and eating at all the awesome restaurants on campus. I love food, so being within walking distance of Green Street was awesome! Those relationships continue today, and I am glad to see where everyone has come since all our RST classes together. It makes me proud to see that we all were able to do something we love and make a career out of it!

Q: What would you say to recommend AHS to a prospective student?

A: I would say take the leap of faith. I too was looking at more prominent majors before I decided to pursue something I loved. You need to understand the industry you are going to takes a lot of relationship-building, persistence, and being able to take rejection/feedback positively. However, AHS will prepare you for all these things and definitely do not hesitate to reach out to peers and alumni like myself. We are all here to help! RST is also a multibillion-dollar industry and is growing every single day. Especially at times like this when we are told to stay indoors without sports, we realize how much we miss going out to our state parks, visiting other countries, and cheering on our favorite teams.

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