Lundquist's Sheldon takes turn as international mentor
The Lundquist College of Business's Judy Sheldon spent three weeks this fall as an international example of women's opportunities in sports.
Sheldon – who serves in dual positions at the UO as director of the Athletics Department's O Heroes initiative and as executive programs coordinator for Lundquist's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center– participated in a new collaboration between the U.S. Department of State and espnW.
The project – Global Sports Mentoring Program– connects U.S. institutions that focus in sports with women from developing countries in order to promote athletic development as a tool for economic empowerment.
Sheldon hosted Hongxia Wei, who works as director of law and regulation at China's Ministry of Sport. They visited with representatives from key departments at the UO, and also traveled to Portland to talk with officials at Nike and USA Gymnastics – even meeting Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas.
“My experience across three levels – as a student-athlete, as an MBA student in Warsaw, and as a professional at UO – has given me three different perspectives on athletics," Sheldon said. "Because college athletics are so unique to the U.S., I was in a unique position where I could advise (Wei) on how things work and help her understand both the pros and cons of our systems."
Sheldon earned her MBA at Lundquist in 2011, and believes her experience as a student in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center was crucial to her selection and success in the program.
"Additionally, the MBA Engaging Asia trip, as well as several personal trips to China, helped build the foundation for my understanding of Chinese culture, and particularly the role of sports in China," she said. "As a result, I was definitely better equipped to help Hongxia develop and implement a program that would work in her home country.”
Sheldon said that memorable moments include trying to explain the “Shout!” song at a football game, watching Hongxia’s joy at seeing middle-school students practice a variety of sports at their school and discovering American cultural idiosyncrasies – such as asking people how they slept at night.
The University of Oregon was the only academic institution out of 17 participating organizations that were invited to take part in the Global Sports Mentoring Program, which has been championed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Funding for the UO's participation in the program came mostly from Warsaw, as the primary host group.
The mentoring program is a cornerstone of the State Department's broader Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative, which is intended to increase the number of women and girls worldwide who are involved in sports. It is based on growing evidence that women and girls who play sports increase their likelihood of excelling in life as well as on the playing field.