On any given day, you may find Jaclyn Sweeney hitting golf balls with focus and passion on a course in South Carolina. Or she might be reviewing film of her performance at the British Open. Or she might be in front of the camera, participating in an interview for the Golf Channel as part of a sponsorship agreement.
Until recently, you might have also found her awake and on her laptop - at 5 a.m. anywhere in the world - completing college assignments online while also touring internationally as part of the LPGA. Yes, Sweeney is a professional golfer and – she is proud to report - a recent college graduate from Arizona State University. She credits ASU’s online program with her being able to pursue both an athletic career and her bachelor’s degree in communications simultaneously.
“Education is the best tool you can get,” explains Sweeney. “Not only did I get my degree, but I got it the way I wanted to.”
Sweeney chose to earn her degree in communications because of the broad appeal of such an education as well as the specific skills that would be immediately applicable to her career.
“What I learned as a communications student enhanced my ability to communicate for sponsors at various ProAms and I had a greater understanding into how their businesses work,” says Sweeney. “In order to be successful, you need to be able to communicate effectively.”
Often times communicating the work involved with being a professional golfer is tricky. Traveling to exotic locations and playing rounds of golf doesn’t always translate as “work” to a business audience. Sweeney experienced this challenge during an ASU course in which she was given an assignment to write her resume.
“The professor told me that I couldn’t simply include golf tours as ‘work’ and that it wasn’t a resume,” begins Sweeney on the assignment. “I explained to him that this was my work and how much money I had earned from these activities.” Her professor challenged her to find another way to communicate the work involved. So Sweeney put together a virtual resume. She incorporated videos of her competing in international competitions that were featured on the Golf Channel, interviews she conducted from a hand-held camera at the Phoenix Open, and interviews she had done for her corporate sponsors. The end product showed everything that goes into being a professional athlete, a brand, and a corporate partner.
“My professor was really impressed,” says Sweeney of his reaction to her assignment. “He said, ‘this is amazing. You incorporated everything you should have in a resume.’ He then asked if he could use my resume to show other students how to translate nontraditional work in a professional resume. I was elated and honored that this distinctive professor with so much business experience appreciated what I had done with the assignment and understood the value of my skills and experience.”
For Sweeney, her communications degree has unlocked opportunities and enabled her to connect with more and more people. “I use social media as a professional athlete and now utilize it more effectively because of what I learned from my courses,” she says. “My degree has helped me to expand my social network.”
Her network has also increased as she meets Sun Devils at nearly every stop on the LPGA tour. “ASU has such a large alumni base, there is always a connection to ASU,” she says. “It is amazing how being part of the ASU community really connects you to people across the globe.”
Sweeney sighs appreciatively with glee and gratitude. “None of this would have been possible without ASU Online,” she says. “It was such a great experience for me.”