China Jude (right)

China Jude (right) received the Academy’s 2012 Alumna of the Year Award for her strong leadership as an athletic director. She currently oversees the athletic department at NCAA Division II Queens College of The City University of New York.

China Jude was a 27-year-old divorcee with a 3-year-old son to support when she made the decision to earn her master’s degree in Sports Management from the United States Sports Academy.

Jude admits she had “limited career opportunities” at the time while living in Chicago. Earning her degree from the Academy in Daphne, Ala., launched her career in sports, she reported at the 27th annual Awards of Sport celebration where she received the university’s 2012 Alumna of the Year award.

Now Jude, who earned her master’s in 1996, is assistant vice president of athletics at Queens College of The City University of New York where she oversees the athletics department’s 19 NCAA Division II varsity sports, as well as student and community recreational programs. She has served in sports administration at the college level ever since graduating from “America’s Sports University,” which is the largest graduate school in sports education in the world.

“This place molded me from a person who worked in sports to someone who is a sports professional,” Jude said. “It was hard but my son, who is 22 now, respects that decision. It was all for him.”

Before she came to the Academy for her master’s degree, Jude said she never dreamed of overseeing a university’s athletic department. A stand-out volleyball player at Alabama State University, her previous work in sports had been entirely in parks and recreation before earning her master’s.

“I was coming from a parks and recreation background,” Jude said. “I had no collegiate experience. I was very fortunate that by the time I completed the Academy and my mentorship with the Senior Bowl, I really had the ability to look at sports as a business. The Academy really prepared me and gave me confidence and the faculty supported and nurtured me. So when I graduated and started working in 1996, I was off and running. I would definitely recommend the Academy to anyone who really wants to work in sports management whether it’s in the college or the corporate world.”

In August, Jude took over at Queens College in Flushing, N.Y., after four years as the Director of Athletics at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania—the smallest program in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).

At Cheyney, Jude is credited with helping move the school past a three-year NCAA probationary period, restoring the athletics program to a competitive state and strengthening the booster club through successful fundraising. Under her leadership, she had two PSAC Basketball Coaches of the Year, 30 All-PSAC athletes, eight individual PSAC Championships, two Academic All-Americans, and other regional and national honors. The department also earned a 2010 NCAA Division II Game Environment Award.

She currently is in charge of sports, intramural and recreation programs at Queens College. Its Division II sports include nationally ranked men’s and women’s tennis teams, as well as a fencing team. In addition, she oversees Queens’ successful community recreation programs for youth and adults, which include fitness training, tennis and swimming programs, youth summer camps and a Saturday education and recreation program.

Jude, who recently completed the Management Leadership Education Program at Harvard University, said providing student-athletes positive college academic and athletic experiences are her No. 1 concern.

“She makes it very clear why we are so proud of our alumni,” said Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich. “She is an outstanding AD and tremendous person.”