Taking focus off court, interns have a ball

Three Vanderbilt seniors majoring in Human Organization Development are spending 32 hours of their busy scholar-athlete lives in very different venues this summer.

Lauren Lueders is having the time of her life trailing sports reporters with cables and mics and writing scripts for WTVF News Channel 5 sports anchor Hope Hines. Jessica Mooney took her pastor's advice to help educate Tennesseans about debilitating health issues and Ashlee Bridge is discovering finance as a possible conduit to future success.

Starting with the senior from Missouri, Lauren is gunning for the sidelines – and not for a trademark 3-pointer. "The best thing about what I'm doing is going off site to the Titans practices or other interviews once or twice a day. That's what I envision I could do in sports reporting. I'd like to do sideline reporting rather than the on-air broadcasts."

Taking a tip from a former assistant coach and Vanderbilt standout, Lauren learned of the possible internship from Caroline Williams who had interviewed there but chose to work with the Titans instead. Lauren's supervisor at the station, Brian McKeegan, had also interviewed her a few times when she was a freshman.

The former high school newspaper reporter has yet to ask any questions during interviews, but promises she will before the internship ends in July. Even more exciting – she hopes to be on the air and have a tape of the experience to shop to possible employers after graduation.

Lauren also shared that the three seniors have a hectic schedule with Monday classes, daily 6 a.m. workouts and intern Tuesday through Friday. ‘It's been a complete whirlwind, a crazy busy schedule right now, but a great experience."

Looking forward to being a leader on court in her final year, Lauren said she is bringing a seasoned and more mature approach to the team. "I think it's going to be a great year. I've been through so many ups and downs through my career. It's been tough, but it's made me into the person I am today. The pressure that I was putting on myself finally stopped. I finally just had a peace about everything. The things that are in my control I will control and I'm going to just have a great attitude no matter what. I have matured a lot."

Jessica Mooney, (photo at left) unique on the team for being a bonafide Nashville native, spent a carefree May with family and at Panama Beach before diving into serious study for her internship with the Division of Minority Health and Disparity Elimination– an office of the Tennessee Department of Health. The department's goal is to make Tennessee one of the healthiest states in the country by addressing health issues with high minority mortality rates. Alcohol and other drugs, cardiovascular disease, cancer, violence (sexual, child and domestic) infant mortality, HIV/AIDS and other STDs and ethnic-specific diseases are part of a resource guide Jessica is creating to educate the state's citizens.

Admitting she's breaking new ground personally during for the internship, she is glad to simply be helping people. "I will go to health fairs and other events with them. The best thing was a panel discussion where I learned a lot. People from different health agencies were discussing problems they see and trying to come up with solutions."

Ashlee Bridge (photo at right) is taking a serious look at finances with an internship at UBS Financial. An enthusiastic Vanderbilt supporter at the office regularly uses athletes as interns, including senior Jermaine Beal on the men's team, and is a financial adviser to Vandy stars who've turned professional.

"I thought this may be interesting, and he likes athletes so I said why not, and gave it a shot," Ashlee recalls. She likes what she sees. "The financial business can be very rewarding and you also have to sell yourself. I have people skills and I'm able to talk with people and get their attention. The only downfall is when the economy goes down, the business suffers. I don't know when it will turn around, but I'll make the most of my studies and see what happens."

Her job includes researching public contact information on the top 50 football players in the Southeast. "He focuses on college athletes, mainly football players going pro. I put their information in a spreadsheet so he can send an informational package to their parents to win their business."

As these seniors transition in the months ahead toward life after university, these new skills have nothing to do with dribbling, passing and shooting, but persistence, dependability and creativity are traits worthy of any career.

Lauren Lueders

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