Earlier this year, AB online managing editor Jason Scott and marketing and audience development manager Kate Rampone came to me with an idea that they thought would engage our younger readers in the campus rec space, while also offering an insightful perspective on that unique community. They proposed a contest that would solicit essays from college juniors working in campus recreation. We would call it the Next Generation of Campus Rec.
The response to the program was heartening. We received 24 submissions from campuses across the country. Every essay was different, offering relatable stories from students who have, loved and been empowered by their involvement in campus rec. There were common threads, too. For example, a majority of our entrants changed their major field of study to recreation once they had been exposed to their respective campus's rec programming and employment opportunities.
From the final submissions, AB editors, in partnership with our friends at NIRSA, picked eight finalists whose essays will be published in Athletic Business throughout 2020. We also decided to treat the author of our favorite entry to a free trip to NIRSA's annual conference and expo in Phoenix, Ariz., April 18-21.
In this issue, you'll hear from Alexander Valadares, our grand prize winner (page 28). The child of immigrant parents who struggled to make ends meet, Alexander overcame extraordinary odds just to attend college. His story celebrates not only the opportunity for which the United States is known but the power of campus rec to change lives for the better.
In the months to come, each of our winners will be given a chance to take over the official Athletic Business Instagram account, so be sure to watch for yet another glimpse into the lives of these promising young students and future professionals. We're excited to share these stories with you, as we continue to do our best to advocate for and inform all factions of the athletics, fitness and recreation industries.
This article originally appeared in the January | February 2020 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Letter From The Editor: Engaging the Next Generation." Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.