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The first time Atlanta native Kendra Whitehurst visited East Tennessee State University was for a track meet in high school. She never dreamed she would be back.
“I had never heard about this school and had never thought about coming here, but a year later, I got a recruiting call from the track coach, and that was the beginning of my journey toward getting clarity about what I wanted,” Whitehurst said. “I’m from metro Atlanta, and I knew I wanted something different because I had been there so long and needed a new environment and new space.
“ETSU could offer that for me.”
Whitehurst completed her bachelor’s degree in physical education in December 2020 and decided to stay at ETSU to pursue a graduate degree in sport science and coach education with a concentration in strength and conditioning. She serves as a graduate assistant with the Women’s basketball team, spending her time working out with the team and leading strength and conditioning exercises for the players that could be used on and off the court.
While most of her time is spent in the Ballad Health Athletic Center (Mini-Dome) and the classroom, throughout her time at ETSU, Whitehurst has made an effort to get to know the coaches, professors, and administrators. These relationships and conversations have opened doors for Whitehurst and helped her build her confidence as she prepares for her career.
“Having the real-time, hands-on experience in the field has allowed me to take those transferable skills and just bring awareness to myself that I could transition to any career path that I really want … using what I have learned here.”
She also enjoys using the lessons she has learned to motivate the players she works with to use their voice and have confidence to seek out opportunities.
“Once I had an objective in my mind, I began asking questions, asking for resources, telling people, ‘This is what I want to do,’ ” Whitehurst said. “So, I began putting my vision out there, and people began to respond. They began to send me things like internship opportunities.
“That gave me the confidence to go into any space, use my voice, and go beyond any limits I put on myself.”
Scholarships have also helped Whitehurst along the way.
“Coming here, I was able to receive a variety of scholarships,” Whitehurst said.
“I would say receiving those scholarships and extra funds is like the cherry on top of all the hard work that led up to the prize,” Whitehurst said. “I am grateful for them and for my six years here at ETSU.”
Learn more about Day of Giving here.