Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
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NASCAR events are a thrilling part of the American experience. But while fans root for their favorite drivers, not many consider the work that takes place long before the first engine revs. That’s where Jusan Hamilton ’13 is in the driver’s seat.
As an account executive for industry operations at NASCAR, Jusan is part of a team responsible for keeping races on track—managing communications, working with sponsors, and traveling to events around the country. But long before his first trip to Daytona, Jusan was racing around a dirt track in upstate New York.
Jusan’s talent led him to compete in go-kart and stock car races up and down the East Coast throughout his high school years. As graduation approached, Jusan set his sights on professional racing—but he was thinking outside the lanes.
“After I realized I wouldn’t be able to race in the top series in NASCAR, I decided that I wanted to work on the business side of the sport,” says Jusan.
His search for a college that would help him reach his goals led to Ithaca, where he worked toward dual degrees in sociology and integrated marketing communications (IMC).
“My two degrees showed me completely different aspects of the business world and of life in general. They really prepared me to make my own path in my career,” Jusan says.
“Sociology allows you to better interpret what you’re putting out there—how it’s going to affect different groups of people, and how they’re going to see it. From a public relations standpoint, sociology is really useful.
“Marketing and advertising are a big part of what makes the sport go ’round. There are communications aspects with the sponsors, the race teams, the track teams, and the corporate side. The IMC major encompassed everything I hoped to do.”
Jusan’s drive to work in professional racing—along with an education that combined skills and knowledge specific to his career goals—led to three internships in the industry followed by a full-time position in communications at NASCAR soon after graduation. Already rising through the ranks, Jusan is on the inside track toward his career goals.
“I love working for NASCAR; I love working in the industry. My goal is to continue to work my way up.”
There are no bogeys when it comes to finding a major in college. So when Adam Karnish switched from biology to chemistry and then to physics during his first two years at Ithaca College, he was never in danger of going over par.
The lifelong golfer’s fondness for math and science eventually drew him to Ithaca’s physics department. “I’ve always been a logical thinker, and physics is the study of how things work, so that really interested me,” he says.
The summer before his senior year, Adam joined an Ithaca College/Cornell research team studying the composition of an asteroid. The project required remotely accessing the controls of a telescope in Hawaii to do some of the work.
For his senior research project, Adam turned his attention to a different flying object: the golf ball. The real goal was to develop his knowledge of computer modeling software, but he took the opportunity to apply it to something he enjoyed.
After graduation, Adam landed a job with the United States Golf Association, where he now works to define individual course ratings and handicaps using statistical analysis and linear regression—skills he honed in Ithaca’s physics department.
“Within the first 10 years, a new golf course goes through big changes,” Adam says. “Trees, grasses, speed of the green—it evolves dramatically.” Because of that, a course needs to be rated at least three times in its first 10 years of existence, he says, and then once every 10 years after.
Theoretical scores produced from the course rating are compared to actual golfers’ scores to determine the course handicap. Those results are fed back into the course rating system.
“If the score is affected more by shots near the green, or by the difficulty of the contours of the green, that information needs to be weighed more heavily to reflect the actual scores made by players,” Adam says.
Adam also teaches course rating and handicap systems at golf courses around the country. Giving research presentations as a student helped prepare him for this aspect of the job, too.
“One thing I really learned at Ithaca was how to speak in front of a group of people and explain my thoughts clearly, in an organized manner, to convey whatever message I'm trying to bring to the audience,” he says.
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