Recreation, park and tourism management graduate will set sail as a 'Fun Boss'

October 01, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Grace Mannix, a Penn State Schreyer Scholar who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in recreation, park and tourism management, is now a crew member of the USS George H.W. Bush, a U.S. Navy supercarrier which has deployments all over the world.

Mannix is a civilian who works for the Commander, Navy Installations Command’s Navy Morale Welfare and Recreation Department as an afloat recreation specialist — better known as a "Fun Boss."

Grace Mannix attending NASCAR race as Navy 'Fun Boss'

Grace Mannix, a recent Penn State recreation, park and tourism management graduate, now works as a "Fun Boss" on the U.S. Navy's USS George H.W. Bush supercarrier. She recently organized a trip for the sailors to a NASCAR race at the Richmond Raceway.

IMAGE: Grace Mannix

As a Fun Boss, Mannix coordinates and oversees all of the recreation opportunities on the ship, including fitness programs, trips and tours, and holiday-themed events. Her role is designed to help reduce the stress of deployment and working in the ship yards, and improve sailor morale.

“When I heard about this position, I felt pulled to it," said Mannix. "I didn’t see myself enlisting, but it seemed like such a meaningful opportunity to experience military culture and support the armed forces in the best way that I knew how.”

After she graduated from Penn State, Mannix had her choice of job offers in Pennsylvania, Alaska, and even Uganda, but she knew she wanted to hold out to be a Fun Boss.

The position provided Mannix an opportunity to challenge herself and do something far different than anything she had undertaken before, an idea central to many of her life experiences, she said.

Mannix graduated from high school a year early and went to Senegal; she studied for a semester in Russia; she worked for THON Dancer Relations at Penn State; and she helped freshmen transition to college through the Penn State LEAP program. She even drove the Zamboni at the Pegula Ice Arena.

But deciding on a job and transitioning to life after college was one of Mannix’s greatest challenges.  She said that having the support of her network at Penn State and her family helped guide her through it.

Grace Mannix at Richmond Raceway

In her role as a U.S. Navy Fun Boss, Grace Mannix, sitting front, helps reduce the stress of deployment and working in the ship yards. She recently organized a trip to the Richmond Raceway.

IMAGE: Provided

“Talking to the Recreation, Park and Tourism Management Department head, Peter Newman, helped me a lot. He helped me navigate through my thoughts and land on a decision. He helped me forgive and be patient with myself,” said Mannix, who decided to take a short-term position for the summer as a staff member with Camp Fire Alaska while she waited to hear back from the military. 

“I am extremely grateful for my family’s support," she added. "They helped me with all the seemingly little tasks, like benefits and insurance, that felt much bigger. I feel like an adult knowing that I’ve taken care of these things, with their help.”

Mannix credits Penn State with cultivating many of the skills she now uses as a Fun Boss, including soft skills like time management, accountability and working independently, and hard skills like event planning and marketing.

“The coursework was spot-on and I had opportunities to practice responsibilities as an undergrad that translate directly to my line of work," she said. "I feel knowledgeable and confident in being able to do my job well because of how I was educated at Penn State.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 18, 2019