Taking Chances: Denise Kamyuka ’18CPS and Emese Ivan, Ph.D.
Denise Kamyuka came to St. John’s University with well-defined aspirations: the Sport Management major wanted to combine her background in pharmacy with her passion for sport. A native of Botswana who was educated in South Africa, she hopes to make a difference in the lives of young girls in Africa using sport-based programming and ultimately to work for an international organization like the United Nations.
Prior to arriving at St. John’s, Denise was a pharmacist for Medswana, a pharmaceutical distributor based in Botswana. There, she worked as a brand manager and athlete nutrition advisor for a major sports nutrition brand exclusively represented by Medswana. “I was responsible for selecting ambassadors—typically nationally known athletes in rugby, cycling, and basketball—to represent the brand,” she explained.
A desire to expand her knowledge drew her to St. John’s, where she met Emese Ivan, Ph.D., Chair and Associate Professor in the Division of Sport Management. “Aside from being a former international student who understood some of my struggles, Dr. Ivan gave me a much needed push—to do more and challenge myself,” Denise observed.
Denise said Dr. Ivan knew exactly how to motivate her. “She is very knowledgeable in so many subject areas,” Denise noted. “More than that, she inspires deep thought and encourages self-discovery.” After graduation in May, Denise hopes to enter St. John’s graduate program in Sport Management.
“With Denise, our very first conversation turned into a highly interesting scholarly discussion,” Dr. Ivan recalled. “I could see she had researched other sport management programs very carefully and knew exactly why she wanted St. John’s.”
In fact, Dr. Ivan added, Denise has already begun publishing her work. She delivered a presentation, “The Application of Game Theory in African Female Marathon Running,” at the annual conference of the New York State Economics Association in October 2017. That work will be published next spring in the Association’s Conference Proceedings. Denise also has received academic honors including St. John’s University’s 2017 Research Day Oral Presentation Award and a travel grant to speak at the 2017 London School of Economics’ Africa Summit.
Denise expressed gratitude for Dr. Ivan’s mentorship: “She has taught me it’s ok not to know everything and that it’s even ok to fail. What’s crucial is to keep taking chances.”