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Alum Navarro restructures leadership development program at Rutgers

December 05, 2018

UW-Madison alumna Kristina Navarro was recently interviewed by NJ Advance Media to talk about her plans for athletic leadership programs at the University of Rutgers.

Navarro, now the senior associate athletic director for leadership development and strategic priorities at Rutgers, was once in the daunting role of student-athlete herself.

Kristina Navarro
Before earning her Ph.D. from the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis in 2012, Navarro was a rower and a track and field athlete who shared a common struggle among student athletes. She says, “I was very highly academically motivated. But once I got there (UW-Madison) I didn’t know what I wanted to focus my energy in. And, so for me, this idea of a life-skills program… I think that’s what’s really fueled my interest to be involved in this.”  

After taking over the Rutgers Leadership Academy, she has been working hard to improve upon their program, which was, at its creation in 2009, a pioneer program in collegiate student-athlete leadership development. Rebranding the academy as the Leadership Development and Strategic Partnership, Navarro hopes that it will “broaden our scope of holistic development programs for Rutgers’ student-athletes as they develop personally and professionally.” 

One of her major additions to the program’s mix of community engagement, career development and personal enhancement are alumni engagement and leadership development tools. She plans to work closely with the university’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which represents the 700 athletes on campus. She is also encouraging students, not just athletes, to have career conversations sooner. 

Her focus is to provide student-athletes with success in school and life after by providing them with holistic tools and approaches. Rutgers football coach Chris Ash tells NJ Advance Media about Navarro’s passion for the project, saying “there are some great things that will be implemented for our student athletes.”

Read more about Navarro’s work and interview with NJ Advance Media here