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Charles Burton

Alumni Spotlight—Charles Burton

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 Charles Burton, an Recreation, Sport and Tourism undergraduate and graduate alum who is now Chief Operating Officer of the Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club in Champaign, Ill.

Q: Why did you pick AHS?

A: If you are driven by curiosity, creativity, and the desire to improve the lives of others or you are interested/fascinated by the human body and the sciences it is natural, pursue a degree in Applied Health Science. As an athlete, with a passion for helping others, I chose AHS as a springboard to gain relevant practical experience working closely with other students and professors in fast-moving environments. The college of applied health sciences equips you to implement scientific principles together with practical clinical experience toward improving quality of life for patients in the rapidly growing and ever-changing healthcare and recreational, sport and tourism industries.

Q: Why did you pick RST?

A: As previously stated, as an student-athlete, I had become to appreciate the competition, adversity, theory practice and science that is required to be successful in sports. In looking at the professional climate, Recreation, Sport & Tourism had began to grow on a world-wide scale. The NBA had become a global brand and other sports were using metrics and science to gain competitive edges in competition. Hospitality & Tourism had also began to grow with more families traveling abroad and more individuals looking to become entrepreneurs in specific sciences. The concept of leisure had been studied and were in its early stages of understanding its effects on mental health and a healthy lifestyle. In Parks & Recreation as well as Youth Development, logic models and fundamental program development principles were becoming the standard. RST allowed me to gain experience in all of these arenas and develop analytical and critical thinking skills to adapt to the fast-growing and ever-changing environment. RST provided me with the opportunity to gain necessary hard & soft skills to be able to have success in any career. The transferable skills allowed to me to be flexible in my career choices and use my passion for helping others in a variety of ways professionally.

Q: Which professors had the most impact on you?

A: It’s hard for me to name one. Each professor brought a different perspective and level of expertise, which challenged me to adapt and always look at challenges as opportunities. The professors gave me more than academic information, they gave me perspective and skills that allowed me to be successful today. Here is a quote, “The world will never stop evolving, our responsibility is to accept the discomfort with change but use it to grow/expand our knowledge through the change to create new opportunities!”

Q: What course did you most enjoy?

A: RST 501 Concepts & Applications in Recreation, Sport & Tourism. This course opens your eyes to various opportunities via a conceptual lens.

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

A: I had no idea of what I wanted to do! Outside of being an athlete, I didn’t know what I was good at.

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

A: Yes, it did. I have worked in almost every aspect of Recreation, Sport & Tourism. My current position as Director of Operations/COO requires me to work conceptually on changing critical issues, finance/budgeting, problem solving, looking for new opportunities through challenges, program development, community relations, customer services, organizational leadership, mentoring/coaching, etc. The foundation for all of these skills came from AHS.

Q: What was your favorite on-campus experience

A: The Quad! Such a beautiful space and seeing the diversity and being able to speak with and understand various cultures were amazing. Spaces like this help us come together and develop a higher level of cultural competency.

Q: What does AHS mean to you?

A: AHS means 4 P’s (Passion; Purpose: Potential; Pathways). Getting a degree from AHS will assist you with Finding your Passion, Defining your Purpose, Discovering your Potential, and Developing Pathways to a Greater Future! These are the strategies for growth and development that are used every day.

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