The Final Exam is your chance to get advice and insights from experts in the industry. For the May/June issue Campus Rec spoke with Kari Osborne Albarado, the director of Campus Recreation at East Tennessee State University (ETSU).
1. How did you get started in the industry?
My career started as an intramural official/supervisor at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. As an undergraduate student I participated in every intramural sport that was offered. The director, Chris Davis, approached me and asked if I was federal work study eligible and if I wanted a job. The answer to both questions was yes. Working for an incredible mentor like Chris inspired me to pursue a career in campus recreation and attend graduate school at Western Illinois University.
2. How would you go about describing campus recreation at ETSU?
Our goal is to have a positive impact on the ETSU community through inclusive programming and facilities. Our team motto is, “You belong here.” We have an outstanding and dedicated team of graduate assistants and professionals who are committed to creating a welcoming environment for all.
3. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your career?
I have presented a few times a presentation titled “More Than Sympathy Cards & Flowers” where I talk openly about my experience with grief in both my personal life and workplace. Experiencing loss has helped shape me into a more empathetic person and compassionate leader.
4. What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?
One of the programs I am most proud of at ETSU is our partnership with Access ETSU. Access ETSU is a two-year inclusive postsecondary education program. It provides young adults with intellectual disabilities a college experience similar to their same age peers. At Campus Recreation, we provide paid on-campus work experiences for Access ETSU students. This past spring at our staff banquet, one of our Access students, Garrison, won an award. Watching his excitement and feeling the love and support from his coworkers, it was an indescribable moment. Being a partner with Access ETSU since its implementation has truly been a transformative experience for our department.
5. What is one lesson you have learned that other recreation professionals might benefit from?
I have been fortunate to have mentors who have helped shape who I am today — from my parents to coworkers and supervisors. I have learned through loss that our time on this earth is short. Always take advantage of the time you have with those who have invested in you and truly care about your development to tell them what they mean to you.
6. What is one fun fact about yourself others may not know?
I grew up in Scott County, Virginia, which is home to the legendary country music artists the Carter Family and the Carter Family Fold — a music venue the Carter family operates. When I was eight years old, my grandmother took me to “The Fold” where I was able to see Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash perform. I even got their autographs.