Once in a Lifetime Experience Awaits Two Local Students – Karen Royal and Dax Thomas Are on Their Way to the Super Bowl

INDIANAPOLIS — Two students, one from Ivy Tech Community College and one from IUPUI, are headed to Lucas Oil Stadium to work behind the scenes at Super Bowl XLVI.

The students, Karen Royal, Lafayette, and Dax Thomas, Indianapolis, will spend three days learning how a large-scale sporting event is prepared and carried out by working directly with the National Football League at various Super Bowl events.

Karen and Dax are part of Team UT from the University of Tennessee, in association with Marion County’s Talent Alliance.  This is the sixth year that a team from UT Knoxville has gone to the Super Bowl.  The team has been asked back each year by the Super Bowl Host Committee.

Talent Alliance asked interested students from Butler, Ivy Tech, IUPUI, Marian, Martin, and the University of Indianapolis (all represented on the Talent Alliance Executive Committee) to write a 250 word essay regarding, ““What do you feel a college or university student can do to support others in becoming productive citizens through education?” 

According to Karen, “Students teach us that you do not need fancy titles to be important in someone’s life.  You simply need to be present.  You need to be your true self.”  Students who do this set the wheels in motion.  “The cycle starts again; therefore, changing the world, one person at a time.”

Dax wrote, “As an African-American male, I believe that it is my duty to support others in the process of becoming productive citizens…I am using my education to inspire others to understand there are other options to achieve their dreams and goals.”

Dr. Rick Markoff, Talent Alliance representative and Visiting Senior Advisor to the Chancellor, IUPUI, notes, “We in Indianapolis are proud of our association with Team UT.  This collaborative effort will enable Karen and Dax to have a Super Bowl experience that combines all the elements of successful teaching, learning, and leadership.”

“TEAM UT has set a high standard for working these types of elite mega-events and adds tremendous brand equity to our university and respective programs,” said faculty adviser Fritz G. Polite, a professor of sport management who is founding director of the Institute for Leadership, Ethics & Diversity (I-LEAD) and director for community outreach and global engagement in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences.  “Working at the Super Bowl is a one-of-a-kind leadership experience for these students,” Polite said. “Many former TEAM UT members cite this experience on their resume as a reason for being employed today.”

Dr. Bob Rider, former Dean, Butler University College of Education, and Dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences at the University of Tennessee, stated, “Experiential learning is authentic learning and contributes significantly to the overall educational experience for the student.”

Approximately 30 essays were submitted in hopes of being chosen for this once in a lifetime experience.

Talent Alliance combines leadership, resources, data, and programs to improve educational outcomes for every citizen in Marion County.  In the process, Talent Alliance seeks to achieve improvement in the local economy and quality of life for greater Indianapolis.  A multi-sector, Marion County initiative, Talent Alliance is convened by IUPUI Chancellor Charles Bantz.

Royal is majoring in Hospitality Administration with a concentration in event planning at Ivy Tech’s Indianapolis campus.  Royal, a single mother of three, dropped out of high school her freshman year.  She held a variety of jobs while raising her three children.  Now that her children are nearly raised, Royal wanted to show them that it’s never too late to change your life for the better.  So after 25 years of being a high school dropout, Royal enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College.  She owes her success to the support of her children and the faculty and staff at Ivy Tech.

Dax Thomas is a junior in the IU School of Physical Education and Tourism Management at IUPUI.  Thomas is studying Sports Management in the Department of Physical Education.

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