Friday, September 21, 2012

Alumna Makes a Career out of a Passion

Alumna Mary Thomas ‘90 began playing golf at just 12 years old. She grew up in Southern Maryland, where changing seasons allowed her the opportunity to pursue many different sports. Her father taught her the game right out of their backyard. “He was an aerospace engineer, and tried to figure out the crazy game of golf. Now that’s what I do! Ironic,” she said.

Also ironic, Mary chose UNCW, not for its golf program, but for its widely renowned Marine Science department. Drawn to the academic reputation, small class sizes, and beautiful campus, Thomas made the decision to attend UNCW. The golf program was merely a bonus. “I wanted to try to play [golf] at school if possible, but a larger school would not have offered me the opportunity,” she said.

Mary walked on to the golf team, and earned a partial scholarship after her freshman season. Her golf skills grew, as did her passion for the game. “I pursued my education and grew as a golfer along the way.” Throughout her UNCW golf career, Thomas remained committed to her academics. “It was a challenge, especially as a golfer when missing multiple classes for tournaments. But academics came first,” she said.

Members of the 1990 UNCW golf team reunite.
Left to Right: Christina Jazkowlski-Geiger '91, Mary Thomas '90,
Paige Cribb '90, Laura Covington '91
Mary’s UNCW golf coach encouraged her to pursue her golf career. “I played professionally for almost two years. I found I improved, but it was not the way I would earn my living. I enjoyed being around the game and the people I met. My goal changed; I wanted to see where the game would lead me next,” she said.

Now the Head Golf Professional at the Greensboro Country Club, Mary is bringing the game of golf to new players. “There are incredible rewards. Wonderful relationships develop with your customers, you help someone learn to play the game or play better and enjoy it more. You create recreation in a world that needs it.”

In her spare time Mary also serves as a member of the UNCW Triad Area Alumni Chapter Steering Committee. “I have always been a proud Seahawk and enjoy meeting other alumni. The school gave me a great opportunity and I want to pay it back. I have enjoyed learning firsthand what is happening at UNCW during our meetings,” she said.

Mary is excited to network with other area alumni at the upcoming Triad Chapter Fall Reception, where Chancellor Miller will speak on the state of the university. “I look forward to being with other alumni friends and making new ones. The common background of UNCW is a great intro into making new friends and networking in general,” she said.

UNCW Alumni Relations/Shannon Rodenheiser '11

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