A lifelong painter with no real interest in sport growing up, Melissa Hadley wasn’t sure at first that pursuing a degree from the United States Sports Academy was right for her. Now, the Academy’s latest Student of the Month says the school’s bachelor’s degree program has shown her that sport is inextricably linked to just about every other industry in the world.

Hadley was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and is now a resident of Daphne, Ala., where she works for the Academy as its Operations Manager. She is pursuing her Bachelor of Sports Science degree in sports management. Once she earns that degree, she hopes to work in the facilities and event management field.

“To be honest, I wasn’t sure about it at first,” Hadley said. “When a professor here told me to sign up for classes, I was hesitant because it is all about sports, something I’ve never been very interested in. But he told me the classes are actually about management, and I could take what I learned here about sports management and apply it to any other industry.”

Like many other Academy students, Hadley found herself needing to give her education a boost to improve her future. She said a quote from racecar driver Bobby Unser – “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet” – inspired her to take that first step toward earning her degree.

“It wasn’t until life slapped me in the face and I realized that I’m in charge of my future now that I decided to get my degree here,” she said. “At first I dragged my feet because I’m not a sports person, but every course has shown me how important sport is to society. Plus, working here I really appreciate our mission – to help people like me around the world make a better future for themselves.”

Hadley may not have initially been interested in sport, but she’s always been a history buff. Her Academy history of sport course showed her how the two have mixed over the years – including the important role that women have played in shaping the sports industry.

“My history of sport course has been my favorite so far,” Hadley said. “I love to see how women have stepped up throughout the history of sport. I’ve also become more interested in women’s history and women’s rights issues because of that course. It has made me question what I believe, in a good way.

“The Academy has made me excited about learning again.”

Hadley said she also learned the value of sports because of the good experience her daughter had playing high school softball in Robertsdale, Ala.

“I watched my daughter become the young adult that she is today because her softball coach was insistent on communication and he held the student athletes accountable,” Hadley said. “Because of him, my daughter learned how to speak up for herself and be part of a team. Also, she learned how to protect other players from bullies and how to stand up for herself in tough situations.”