Penn State student becomes Penn State teacher

Becoming an instructor at Penn State was not the plan for Matthew Bakowicz.

When he enrolled in the PGA Professional Golf Management (PGM) program in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management (RPTM) at Penn State as an undergraduate student he envisioned a different future.

Bakowicz never thought he would be teaching students at his alma mater.

“I thought I’d do college for four years and then work as a head golf pro, probably in the New York area; I love the Long Island area,” Bakowicz said.

But life has a way of going in unexpected directions. As Bakowicz got closer to earning his bachelor’s degree he completed several internships, including one at the Golf Teaching and Research Center (GTRC) at Penn State, which uses innovative technology to conduct research to improve player performance, and offers advanced services to golfers, including golf swing biomechanics. Bakowicz also gained opportunities to assist with teaching.

As graduation neared, his professors began asking if he had considered going to graduate school. It hadn’t occurred to him, but this new suggestion seemed to click because he recently found he enjoyed research and teaching. A master’s degree would allow him to do more of both. So after graduation, Bakowicz began earning a master’s degree in recreation, park, and tourism management at Penn State.

As a graduate student, Bakowicz worked as an adjunct professor, teaching courses like Political and Legal Aspects of Recreation and Organizational Behavior. He also taught a course that introduced students to the basics of golf and another course that helped students teach the game of golf.

At the same time, Bakowicz served as manager of the GTRC, overseeing daily operations, including supervising interns and handling data collection for research projects, and providing golf lessons to students.

Bakowicz also worked for the Bryce Jordan Center as an usher and for the State College Spikes, a minor league baseball team, where he was in charge of analytics for the players, tracking aspects like pitch velocity, how hard a batter hit a ball, and the ball’s spin rotation.

“Working in all of these places makes me a better teacher because I can bring into the classroom my experiences, which helps with my credibility and shows students what they can do after college,” Bakowicz said.

In 2016, Bakowicz earned his master’s degree from Penn State. From there, he kept serving as an adjunct professor. Less than a year later, Penn State hired Bakowicz as a full-time faculty member. In this role, he is the GTRC’s lab manager and oversees the PGA of America work experience assignments, monitoring student's progress through the PGA's Golf Management program, and is the facility adviser for the RPTM Affiliate Program Group Board, an extension of the Penn State Alumni Association. He also teaches a variety of courses for RPTM, kinesiology, and hospitality management.

“I don’t see myself leaving Penn State. I like it here because of the uniqueness of the environment; it feels like a family environment, not just a work environment,” Bakowicz said. “At Penn State, we’re always trying to be innovative and try something new; we’re at the forefront of research, sports programs, and internships programs. There’s always pressure to change and be innovative so the work never becomes stagnant.”

Media Contacts: 
Last Updated March 02, 2018