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TTU News

thumb SmilekidsWhen Chelsea Mills is sitting behind a desk in Tennessee Tech University’s Memorial Gym, she is a sophomore from Chattanooga studying exercise science, physical education and wellness.

But when she stands at the front of the class to introduce herself, she owns her own sport agency and works to negotiate contracts for professional athletes.

It’s an exercise in leadership for her and more than a dozen other students involved in SMILE, Sport Management Institution for Leadership Excellence, an organization that helps students figure out who they want to be and how they plan to get there after college.

“I want to be an athletic director so I want to develop these leadership skills,” said Katie Whetstone, a sophomore from Dayton, Ohio. “We are in a people business and having these leadership skills will help. I see it helping with the way I look at other people.”

thumb SMile-ChelseaThe group is the brainchild of LaNise Rosemond, assistant professor of EXPW, who recently became the faculty mentor for the coaching and sport administration concentration. Adding the mentorships to help connect faculty and students was the idea of Amy Jared, academic adviser and adjunct faculty member in the department.

Rosemond incorporates leadership training, in the form of books, worksheets, exercises and a web-based TV show called Fresh Direction, into every class she teaches. But she wanted to do more, especially for her undergrads because she is spending a lot of time with the new sport management master’s program.

“We’re trying to train leaders to be successful in society, but the students don’t know what that means,” she said. “I cause them to think. I don’t force it on them. I get them thinking about what it will take for them to get there.”

Part of that involves encouraging them to look for volunteer opportunities and places where they can give presentations to improve their public speaking skills, as well as to identify skills in themselves they need to develop and work on.

“We’re preparing them so that when they leave Tennessee Tech, they can improve the community here,” Rosemond said. “But also part of our mission is to raise up leaders who can impact the world.”

When the group starts meeting again after summer break, Rosemond plans to bring in guest speakers, including professional athletes, members of the TTU Athletics staff and some administrators of professional teams. Though the focus of the group will remain on sport professionals and related to the EXPW students, Rosemond said all students are welcome to come to the meetings.

“My calling is to motivate and to help them realize that they can do anything they set their mind to,” she said. “We could be implementing this on the whole campus. The goal is to raise up leaders in our field of study and around our campus, because we are one Tennessee Tech family.”