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 October 2007 • NIRSA news and information
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Scholarship winners: Where are they now?

Part of a series of updates on past NIRSA Foundation Scholarship winners

The NIRSA Foundation is committed to educational and scholarly projects that enhance leadership development within campus programs. Each year the NIRSA Foundation offers student and professional scholarships so that recipients can attend various NIRSA educational programs.

This year, the NIRSA Foundation awarded scholarships to 17 students and 3 professionals. Since 1994, the Foundation has awarded 201 scholarships totaling more than $50,000 to enhance the professional and career aspirations of our Student and Professional Members.

From time to time, the Foundation Board will track some of our scholarship recipients to get an idea of how their lives and careers have turned out.

This month, we caught up with Jim Langel of Wartburg College. Jim was the inaugural recipient of the Will Holsberry Scholarship in 2002. The Holsberry Scholarship was established to honor our Association's third Executive Secretary (later Executive Director). This endowment provides a Professional Member of NIRSA the opportunity to attend either the National School of Recreational Sports Management; National Recreational Facilities Institute; Collegiate Sport Club Symposium; National Fitness Institute; National Aquatic Institute; or the Annual Conference & Recreational Sports Exposition.

Jim Langel, 2002 Will Holsberry Scholarship Recipient

NIRSA Foundation: What are you doing now?

Jim: I am the Executive Director of the Wartburg-Waverly Sports & Wellness Center (The W). The W is a 200,000 sq. ft. center that will house recreation, wellness promotions, physical education classes, and athletics for Wartburg College and the Waverly community

Note: Jim was named the Executive Director of the Wartburg-Waverly Sports & Wellness Center in January 2007. Wartburg College and the City of Waverly are partnering in an innovative project to benefit both the college and community. Scheduled to open in the fall of 2007, the Wartburg-Waverly Sports and Wellness Center will be one of the largest NCAA Division III facilities of its kind in the nation. Read more

NIRSA Foundation: What NIRSA activity or event did you use your scholarship to attend?

Jim: I used the scholarship to attend the NIRSA Executive Development Institute in Tempe, Arizona in 2002.

Note: The NIRSA Executive Development Institute was discontinued after 2003.

NIRSA Foundation: You were the first recipient of a professional scholarship from the Foundation. How did it feel to be the inaugural recipient?

Jim: It is hard to explain how great it felt and the more I thought about it the more excited and honored I became. I always did my best to support the NIRSA Foundation and to give back to our Association. Many colleagues that I looked up to when entering the field told me to stay involved and be active in NIRSA. One of those individuals was Will Holsberry. Becoming the inaugural recipient of a scholarship named for Will made it even more special.

NIRSA Foundation: Would you have been able to attend the Executive Development Institute without the Foundation scholarship?

Jim: I would not have been able to attend the Executive Development Institute without this scholarship. The professional development budget that I had at that time did not even cover the cost of the Annual Conference, so I was already paying for my membership, part of the Annual Conference, and any state or regional events that I wanted to attend out of my own pocket.

NIRSA Foundation: What was a favorite experience from Tempe that you would like to share?

Jim: It is always nice to get the opportunity to spend time with the great people who are members of NIRSA, and this was no exception. I had the chance to meet a few more people and further some friendships that I already had. However, the best thing that I took back to campus with me was what I learned regarding working with people with different personalities and how to make the most of difficult situations.

NIRSA Foundation: Winning a scholarship means different things to different recipients. What did your scholarship mean to you and why? Do you feel it has had a significant impact on your professional development? Do you believe that your Foundation scholarship helped further your career?

Jim: This scholarship did far more than simply make it possible for me to attend the Executive Development Institute. It put me in a position to challenge myself and placed me with people that put my career and our Association into perspective for me. I knew when I left the Institute that I would stand for office the next time I was nominated. I truly believe that this experience gave me the confidence to stand for office and serve NIRSA as Region V Vice President. The experiences that I gained and people that I met while serving on the Board were amazing, and can be directly linked to me receiving this scholarship. This scholarship did a great deal to further my career.

NIRSA Foundation: Any advice for our current students and future professionals?

Jim: As our Association grows and the way we do business changes with the times, we cannot lose touch with what allowed us to get to this point. We are an Association that is made up of many great people who have a lot to share with one another. I am a firm believer in giving back to the Association, and I think that the members should do this by being active at NIRSA events they attend and by supporting the NIRSA Foundation. Not everyone enjoys presenting at conferences, but there are many other ways you can be involved. Likewise, not everyone is in a position to donate a lot of money to the Foundation, but every donation is important, and the money is used well.

NIRSA Foundation: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Jim: So many great things have happened to me because of my involvement with NIRSA that I could write a book just about that.
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