Athletics keeps business student ‘on track’

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A. Sue Weisler

Kat Springate will head to Pricewaterhouse Coopers upon completing her master's degree.

A familiar face on campus is Kathrine “Kat” Springate, who works as a recreation attendant in RIT’s Hale-Andrews Student Life Center. At her “home away from home,” she’s also an avid track and cross-country competitor, one of nearly 600 student athletes who participate in some of the 24 varsity sports at RIT.

Springate is a mid-distance runner and one of her events in track and field is the 400 hurdles—which, in a way, is a reflection of how she lives her life.

She doesn’t believe in hurdles, especially in her resolve for achieving academic excellence as an accounting major with a minor in management information systems in RIT’s E. Philip Saunders College of Business. Springate also believes the strength and resolve that make her a successful athlete, help her maintain focus on class requirements—earning a 3.92 GPA.

“I run every day, year round, and it keeps me balanced,” says Springate, who has achieved state qualifier status in indoor and outdoor track each year at RIT. “And I credit the endorphins for keeping me awake in the classroom.”

Springate hails from Amherst, N.Y., and attended Williamsville North High School before applying early decision to RIT. “This was the only school I wanted to go to because it’s fast-paced and I liked the co-op program,” she says.

At the Saunders College, she has served on the executive board, was recognized as an outstanding volunteer for the Lowenthal service community group, and is a member of the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society and Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Honor Society.

She also participated in events partnered by the Saunders College, Junior Achievement of Rochester and Rochester City School District.

“We went to Kodak Park School No. 41, and I remember asking a simple question, ‘What kind of business would you own if you could start one,’ and none of these sixth graders ever thought it was possible for them to become entrepreneurs,” Springate recalls. “They got so excited because we opened their world to the idea that they could become successful in business too. I knew what we were saying could change their lives.”

Springate cites assistant professor Pamela Neely, who teaches management information systems in the Saunders College, with keeping her focus on her own career track.

“I thank her every time I see her,” says Springate, “because she encouraged me to keep my minor, and that’s the primary reason I ended up with my co-op internship at Pricewaterhouse Coopers, working for the systems process and assurance group, which revolves around services related to controls around financial reporting—including financial business process and IT management controls.”

It also landed Springate a job offer at Pricewaterhouse Coopers where she will start working in 2010. That, according to RIT accounting professor Bruce Oliver, is almost unheard of.

“I was one of Kat’s sponsors nominating her for the RIT Outstanding Undergraduate Scholars 2008-2009 program, and the external validation from Pricewaterhouse Coopers to offer her a full-time position after she completes her masters of business administration is a tangible tribute to her abilities and talents,” says Oliver.

“I do not recall any time that one of the large, international CPA firms has offered an undergraduate individual a full-time position when they haven’t completed a master’s degree.”

But Springate takes the compliment in stride.

“After I worked there in summer 2007 and spring 2008, they told me they wanted me to come back, so of course I accepted. I just love it there because the people are confident and trust you will get the job done. And I will.”