The following article was published by Emily Munnell and written by UGA Mentee and Women’s Tennis Player, Meg Kowalski. To view the original article, click here.
A few weeks after returning to my hometown of Chicago at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of questions loomed in my head. As a student-athlete with National Championship aspirations since I committed to Georgia my sophomore year of high school, the abrupt stop to the world was the perfect time for me to shift my mindset from “fourth and goal” to “fourth and life”—an expression that I would soon hear a lot about from my mentor. While participating in remote learning, I started digging into life after tennis and sought advice from various sports industry professionals. To my surprise, a connection on LinkedIn would develop into a formal relationship through the UGA Mentor Program and, ultimately, change my life forever.
I could spend this entire testimonial elaborating on the accomplishments of UGA’s 2021 Class of 40 Under 40 honoree, Angela Alfano (AB ’10, ABJ ’10), but the word count would not even scratch the surface of the incredible career she has had. She currently serves as the senior director of corporate communications for Major League Soccer, and previously worked for Tough Mudder, the National Football League, and the Washington Football Team. Angela started her sports communications career as a student assistant in UGA’s Sports Information Department. She is the most humble and genuine person with whom I have had the pleasure of talking. I view Angela as a mentor and a big sister.
During our monthly Zoom chats and phone calls, Angela brings loads of positive energy that not only instills great confidence in me, but also makes me believe in my big goals of pursuing a career in the sports industry. Through her, I have been able to connect with many sports business executives—some who even served as mentors to Angela when she was in my shoes. The opportunity to connect with influential leaders in the industry has been a game changer. Building my network, cultivating sports public relations experience and conducting informational interviews has proven extremely beneficial to jump-starting my career in a competitive industry.
“Passionate and hardworking, Meg is an incredible mentee and rising star in the sports industry,” said Alfano. “Her commitment to taking strategic action to grow her network, gain hands-on experience and develop her personal brand has positioned her for incredible success as she embarks into the next chapter of her already impressive sports PR career.”
Angela helped introduce me to the legendary Claude Felton (ABJ ’70, MA ’71), the Loran Smith Senior Associate Athletic Director, who spearheads UGA’s sports communications office. This past year, I served as a student media assistant under Claude. He provided me with the opportunity to strengthen my public relations skills while working on a variety of athletic communications projects. As a tennis player, I received the “full-court advantage” of understanding both life as a student-athlete and in the front office working behind-the-scenes. With a solid sports PR foundation paved, I was fortunate to land a football communications internship with the NFL at their New York City headquarters last summer. Working alongside successful and insightful leaders, in addition to contributing to valuable projects and assignments, was such an incredible experience.
Angela has fueled my passion for pursuing a career in the sports world and is the best advocate that I could have asked for. Having my UGA Mentor in my corner and being a cheerleader for me has made the biggest difference. It will forever strengthen me and bolster my sports PR game plan.
“It is an incredible honor to be a mentor to one of UGA’s best and brightest Dawgs. Any organization would be lucky to have Meg on their team,” said Alfano. “An exceptional young executive who is destined to make key contributions in the sports industry, Meg is a future trailblazer and mentor for the next generation of Bulldog mentees.”
Meg Kowalski is a student-athlete at the University of Georgia pursuing a Double Dawg degree in sport management and minor in business. A member of the 2019 National Championship women’s tennis team, Kowalski served as president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and earned All-American status in the 2021 season. She has been involved with the UGA Mentor Program since Fall 2019.