Lifelong athlete and sports fan Kalah Anderson ’17 knew she would need a creative path to stay involved with sports after graduation. She found that opportunity through Bradley’s hospitality leadership program.
Anderson, of Batavia, Illinois, grew up with athletic siblings and a coach father. She participated in dance, gymnastics and track as a youth and continued her dance passion as a member of the Bravettes dance team.
Gifted with a passion for people, but not media skills or business management acumen often associated with sports-related careers, Anderson recognized she could be a valuable behind-the-scenes asset in the industry. Hospitality leadership provided her the opportunity to lead gameday fan experience operations, philanthropic ventures and community relations.
“There is a lot of hospitality in sports that people don’t see or think about,” Anderson said. “This is a creative outlet for my passion that will allow me to graduate with plenty of sports experience even though my degree won’t technically have ‘sports’ in it.”
Two professional experiences during the fall of 2016 showed her professional possibilities were within reach. First, she attended a sports networking fair hosted by Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire. Even though she was one of the youngest attendees at the event, Anderson thought she left a positive impression on prospective employers. Interviews with the Fire, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bandits, University of Notre Dame and Susan G. Komen For the Cure led to multiple future opportunities.
“Even though it was intimidating at first, Bradley prepared me well to show my talent,” she said. “I felt confident, like I belonged there, and enjoyed the opportunity to make meaningful connections with recognizable names in sports.”
Boosted by her performance at the Chicago event, Anderson contacted front office executives of the Peoria Rivermen, the city’s minor-league hockey club. She was rewarded with a season-long internship that allowed her to experience gameday operations and philanthropic outreach.
Anderson’s Rivermen internship affirmed her interest in community outreach as she engaged the hockey club’s partners.
“Working for a local team while at Bradley is unique because I can see what happens in the community outside my college world,” she said. “I’m seeing how a local team and its partners can impact a city in ways that go far beyond an enjoyable fan experience at a game. It’s inspiring to see athletes make differences in their communities like this.”
Anderson honed valuable professional skills as she rose through the ranks with the Bravettes and Sigma Kappa sorority. She discovered she enjoyed event organizing through leadership within Sigma Kappa. Those accomplishments led to executive responsibilities in Order of Omega, the Greek Life honor society.
Those accomplishments helped her as co-captain of the dance team, a role that pushed her into the spotlight as the squad’s public face as a fundraiser for scholarship and team needs not funded by the University.
She credited growth throughout her Bradley journey to conversations with sorority friends who identified her abilities early in her experience.
“As a freshman, I never expected I’d leave Bradley with all these experiences that shaped me,” Anderson said. “People saw potential in me that I’m not sure I always saw. I’m grateful they encouraged me to try new things and helped me become what I am today.”