Event planning courses led alumna to career in athletics

February 27, 2020

When she was a student at Penn State, Destiny Rodriguez developed a passion for athletics after seeing its impact on players and fans alike during an internship with Penn State football.

“I loved watching the impact the coaches have on the players, and then the impact the players have on the community and fans. Players come to Penn State and we become their family,” said Rodriguez, a 2017 graduate with a degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Management.

She also completed internships and practicums in the recreational services teams at several resort hotel venues to prepare her for a variety of career options.

“I wanted to be in athletics, but it’s a hard industry to get into, so I decided to pursue a career path at hotel venues,” said Rodriguez. She was even offered a position at a major hotel chain following graduation.

But athletics was where she wanted to be. When she got a call from Penn State football offering her the chance to continue her undergraduate internship, she knew that was the path for her.

Destiny Rodriguez holding a football.

Destiny Rodriguez

IMAGE: Caleb Tyler

“When I did the interview for this internship, I fell in love with it, and knew I wanted to stay in State College and pursue this.”

Following her passion paid off. Rodriguez is now the recruiting coordinator for operations and visits for Penn State football, where she plans and executes all unofficial and official recruiting visits, down to who the recruits meet, where they eat and the best ways to highlight the University and the football program.

Her days are spent all over campus, from touring classroom facilities and athletics buildings, to managing events and visits at Beaver Stadium.

After the post-graduation internship was finished, Rodriguez became the director of operations for Penn State men’s soccer. She also had a job offer from a university on the West coast, but wanted to stay in State College and wait for a position with Penn State football. Less than a year later, she was back with the program.

Destiny Rodriguez and the Penn State Football recruiting staff at AT&T Stadium after the Nittany Lion's win at the 2019 Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas.

Destiny Rodriguez and the Penn State Football recruiting staff at AT&T Stadium after the Nittany Lion's win at the 2019 Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas.

IMAGE: Nick Plesce

“I had built relationships and networks here, which is a big part of the sports industry overall,” said Rodriguez. “And I really believe in the leadership, values, and culture that Coach Franklin has in place. I believe in his vision and the direction he is taking the Penn State football program, and I am motivated to do whatever I can to help that vision.”

Rodriguez said she felt prepared and confident in this role because of the education she received as an RPTM student. She still relies on what she learned in RPTM 456: Programming in Recreation Services, during which students plan and execute a non-profit event for a community organization.

She also received tremendous support from mentors in the department, including Patricia Kleban, assistant teaching professor and director of the RPTM Student Success Center.

“Everything I did in RPTM was hands-on and preparing me for my future. I never felt like I was just sitting in a classroom, I was constantly being groomed for my career,” she said. “At the time I underestimated how valuable all of that information and support was, but now I don’t take for granted what I learned.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated February 27, 2020