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Gameday epiphany changed scholarship winner’s world

Katie Emmons
December 10, 2019

Before she found out she was a Sesquicentennial Scholar, Alison Hernandez walked across the Oval on a football Saturday when it hit her: Working in sports is where she should take her career.

“I was walking through (ESPN’s) College GameDay before the Oklahoma game my freshman year, and I was on the phone with my mom. And I was like, ‘This is so cool. I want to work for them,’” she said.

Her mom told her, “Do it. You're at Ohio State. You can do whatever you want.”

So, she switched majors. “Best decision I ever made,” Hernandez said.

Now a third-year sport industry student from Napoleon, Ohio, Hernandez initially chose health sciences, with plans to become a physical therapist — a profession that often serves those with sports injuries.

Hernandez couldn’t imagine going to any other school. A history of family members attending Ohio State, plus her love for Buckeye sports, cemented the deal.

While Hernandez doesn’t see herself working for College GameDay specifically, bumping into the cable sport channel — broadcasting live from her campus — changed her perspective. “Seeing it in person . . . just got me thinking how much I would enjoy working in sports for the rest of my life,” Hernandez said. “I always saw sports as something I enjoyed watching and being a part of. It never occurred to me I could make it a full career and love every second of it.”

Working for Ohio State Athletics

Now Hernandez is a student lead for the university’s Department of Athletics. She works mainly with the women’s ice hockey and the football team. She assists with in-game promotions, creates graphics for social media accounts and banners for the Schottenstein Center and keeps the teams on a strict schedule during games.

“As big and as awesome as the department is, if you get to know people, there's definitely opportunity,” Hernandez said.

Her job and her major have opened doors for her. She helped with the Dwayne Haskins pro camp in May, coached at a sports summer camp for 5- to12-year-olds this year and most recently was an intern for the Columbus Marathon.

“I ran the half marathon my freshman year, and then I realized I wanted to work in sports,” Hernandez said. “I actually cold emailed the director of the race. Over the summer, he emailed me back and said that they would love to have me.”

Hernandez spent the morning of the October marathon helping corral the winners of the full and half marathons so news outlets could interview them. She also supported the social media team.

Becoming a Sesquicentennial Scholar

A professor urged Hernandez to apply for the Sesquicentennial Student Scholar Leadership Program, a scholarship given to 150 students to celebrate Ohio State’s 150th anniversary. “She sent me the email and told me that it was something I should look into. She saw me as a part of it,” Hernandez said. “Another professor helped me through answering the questions and the essays.”

She’s excited about the leadership training she gets as a winner of the award.

“I would like to be some sort of leader, even if I just mentor another student after I graduate. I've had a lot of really good mentors in my life, so I definitely want to play that role for somebody else,” Hernandez said.

Not only does the sesquicentennial scholarship program offer a chance to grow her professional skills, it gives her another avenue to live out her passion at Ohio State. “I feel really grateful for this opportunity,” Hernandez said. “I really didn’t expect to get it.

“This is my favorite place ever. I feel so happy at Ohio State. I love it so much.”

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