Student Features

 Outdoor Adventures Alumni: Laura Cottongim

Laura and Friend in kayaks on a river

How long were you a part of Outdoor Adventures(OA)? What was your role?

I was at OA from 2014 - 2018. Started counseling the summer day camp and worked my way up to Trip Leader Mentor. OA was a great place to meet amazing people at KSU and get out of my comfort zone.

How has being involved with Outdoor Adventures impacted your life after college? What knowledge or skills do you still use?

After graduating I took the leadership skills I learned and apply them in my current job. Many of the skills covered in ALC [Adventure Leadership Course] I still use today. Things like effective communication, feedback, and conflict management. The detailed planning that goes into a trip prepared me for a logistical role. The punctuation and standards that we were held to, also prepared me for working on a professional level. I also got a lot out of instructing my peers. This helped the most when presenting ideas to a group of “peers” who are all significantly older than me.

Why would you recommend others get involved with OA?

I would encourage others to get involved not only for the amazing friends and people, but for the life experiences that are created. There is so much to learn by doing outdoor activities that can so easily be related to future jobs and opportunities.

Laura Cottongim graduated in 2018 with a degree in Industrial Engineering Technology. Laura guided whitewater, sea kayaking, hiking, and backpacking trips for Outdoor Adventures during her time at KSU. She also held leadership positions within OA and instructed her peers on leadership topics and outdoor skills. Currently, Laura is working as an Industrial Engineer in Chattanooga and enjoys adventuring on weekends.

  • While we know the Spring semester didn't go as planned, our student staff remained resilient and finished out the semester strong! Here are a few of our student staff members who are now graduates of Kennesaw State University!


    • Lauren Burns

      Lauren Burns

      Lauren Burns has worked as a facility manager for Sports and Recreation and is graduating with a Masters of Science in Information Technology degree and a certificate in Data Management and Analytics! After graduation, Lauren will continue working with the Cobb County Government as a Technical Support Analyst. She credits her position at the recreation centers with becoming more of a people person.

      Quotes Lauren likes to live by:

      "Life is short, buy the shoes"

      and "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem" - Captain Jack Sparrow.

      • Sylvia Headshot

        Sylvia Okonkwo

        Sylvia Okonkwo has worked as a facility manager with Sports and Recreation and is graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a minor in African and African American Studies (AADS). After graduation, Sylvia plans to further her career in psychology.

        Working a the recreation center provided many lessons for Sylvia - however, one of the biggest lessons she learned was how to establish herself as a leader while gaining respect from her peers.

        Some words of wisdom that Sylvia likes to live by: “You’re busy doubting yourself while so many people are intimidated by your potential”.

        • Anthony Morris

          Anthony Morris

          Anthony Morris has worked as a facility manager with Sports and Recreation and is next up on our graduation shout outs! Anthony will be graduating with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree with a concentration in Band and Choral Education. After graduating, he plans on teaching band for a couple years and heading back to the classroom to continue his education to receive a Masters of Music in Wind Band Conducting.

          "I learned a lot from my time here at the rec center. I learned leadership skills, teamwork, and perseverance. However, one of the best things I have experienced here is… FAMILY. In the past three years, I have gained life-long friends that have become my family. I can’t believe the time is up for me here but it’s been amazing so thank you to everyone here with me. I am going to miss EVERYONE!"

          Anthony wants to encourage everyone with this quote:  “The thing you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain your Legacy"~ Kalu N. Kalu

          • Natalie Janes Headshot

            Natalie Janes

            Natalie Janes has worked with Sports and Recreation as the Facilities and Events Graduate Assistant. While reflecting back on her time here, the majority of her favorite moments are the interactions she has had with her student staff! She has a hard time picking a favorite moment because they constantly kept her laughing with them (or at them?)! ;) Natalie also enjoyed and looked forward to the tradition of monthly birthday lunches with the full-time staff!

            Natalie will be graduating with a Masters of Science degree in Sport Management. Her next goals are to make it through COVID-19 healthy and find a full-time position in Campus Recreation.

            A quote Natalie likes to live by: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss

            Outdoor Adventures

            • Muhammad Headshot

              Muhammad Bilal


              Muhammad has worked as a Trip Leader with Outdoor Adventures during his time at Kennesaw State! He has completed his Bachelors of Science in Interactive Design Degree!  After graduation, he plans on traveling a lot more - exploring different places and countries. Career wise - he is ready to begin his full time work soon after graduation!
              While working with Outdoor Adventures as a trip leader, Muhammad found his passion for the outdoors which is something he is truly grateful for!

              Muhammad wants to encourage others to try new things! You might find something you love!


              • Ariana in Graduation Cap and Gown

                Ariana Garbers

                Ariana Garbers has workedasanOwlFit group fitnessinstructorteaching Pilates! She is a dual-enrolled student who is graduating this May! After graduation, she will be starting classes at Georgia Tech this summer pursuing a degree as an Industrial Engineering major. She also plans on keeping group fitness as a key part of her life, since it has made such an impact on her!

                "As soon as I started the group fitness instructor prep program, I already felt like I was a part of the OwlFit family. After getting hired, I felt like I belonged to something bigger, not just teaching fitness, but changing people's lives and creating a community. My favorite part of working with OwlFit was the collaboration they encouraged and the family I felt a part of. "

                Some words of wisdom that Ariana likes to live by "will power is a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets!"

                • Katherine Griffiths Headshot

                  Katherine Griffiths

                  Katherine has been working with Sports and Recreation as an OwlFit group fitness instructor teaching yoga! She has completed her Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree! After graduation, she is planning on spending a month in the Sacred Valley of Peru working towards and obtaining her International Yoga Alliance 200-hour teaching certification!

                  "Joining the OwlFit team was, without a doubt, the best part of my college experience. As a Group Fitness Instructor, I connected with new people in a meaningful way by sharing a practice that brings joy and peace to people from many different walks of life."

                  Quotes Katherine likes to live by: "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all" - Helen Keller

                  • Ethan Wilson Headshot

                    Ethan Wilson

                    Ethan Wilson has been employed with Sports and Recreation as a personal trainer with our OwlFit program! He is graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science. After graduation, he plans to get more experience training clients in preparation for physical therapy school! Overall, he is just excited to get out into the field of exercise medicine and learn more about the human body and movement system.

                    "Although I haven’t been employed by Sports and Recreation for very long, I’ve gotten a good experience of how the operations to maintain the SRAC work and the methods that the trainers at KSU use. Hopefully in the future, I can use some of the templates, cues, exercises and formats that the trainers at KSU use and if I ever am part of running a facility that I have an idea of where to start."

                    Ethan wants current and future KSU students to remember: no matter how hard or impossible it is, never lose sight of your goal.

                  • students mountain biking

                    KSU Club Cycling hits the road and the trails for yearlong competitions. No matter the season, riders compete in road, mountain bike or cycle-cross racing. With about 30 riders, the club has been active as part of the Club Sports program within the Department of Sports and Recreation for a number of years.  
                    Jeremy Carpenter, a mechanical engineering major and president of the KSU Cycling Club, immediately got involved when he began at Kennesaw State University. Carpenter has enjoyed racing throughout his collegiate career. Another KSU Cycling representative Garrett Carman, a freshman marketing major, heard about the club sport through a YouTube video.  He contacted the club shortly after being accepted to KSU to get involved.  
                    Both Carpenter and Carman recommend KSU students participate in Club Sports. They believe it is a great way to get to know more people, especially people who have the same passion. Club Sports gives students the healthy benefits of exercise, but also has opportunities for community service and team building. The KSU Cycling Club regularly participates in trail maintenance, which gives back to the areas in which they ride as well as helps to expand their network with the cycling community outside of the team. Other benefits include the sport acting as a stress reliever from the grind of being a college student – “it really helps take your mind off of things and get away from the rush of school” said Carman.  Both students credit the cycling community to being ‘open arms’ and unique in the fact that it is a supportive atmosphere and a culture unlike any other sport. Races often involve motivational cheers to riders from spectators hailing from various universities. 
                    With mountain bike season ending, the Cycling Club is still flying high after competing at the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals October 11-13 in Big Bear Lake, California. This event pulls together many different riders from across the country in one place and riders get to race on ‘insane’ trails – unlike those available in the Southeastern United States. This isn’t the first experience at the National Competition that the team has had. Seasoned rider, Owen Witcher, was back in the saddle again this year. After a podium finish last year, Witcher had another great experience, placing 7th in dual slalom out of 52 riders and 11th out of 78 in the downhill competition.  The club sent five riders to the competition including: Brendan Bowers, Jeremy Carpenter, Evan Coulter, Hunter Gatlin, and Owen Witcher and competed in Downhill and Dual Slalom events.  
                    With the competition being on the other side of the country, the club helped to fund some of the expenses associated with the race. Through jersey sales and Krispy Kreme donut sales, the club helped the team with the race entry fees. The riders said their trip to the Mountain Bike Nationals is one of the best experiences in cycling. The team also was rewarded with stronger bonds and connections with new friends through their cross-country travel.  
                    KSU Club Cycling now looks forward to road racing season, which starts in February, with goals to finish at the top in the club conference championships. Most of all, the club just wants to have the riders compete as they are able and to do so without injury.  
                    The team is always recruiting and is hoping to grow the women’s side of their team in the future. Interested riders just need to know how to ride and have a helmet and a bike! Interested in joining? Email the club at and follow along with their season on Instagram at @ksucycling
                    Find out more about club sports at KSU!

                  • Roller Hockey Team with TrophyKennesaw State University's Roller Hockey Club Sport Team traveled to Rochester, New York to compete in the National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association's National Competition making a solid run and finishing 4th overall in Division 2 after a tough fought battle in the semi-final round.

                    Trystan Chappell, a Junior Finance major and President of the Club, looks back on the 16-3 season with positive memories. After a successful season, the team won the regional tournament giving them the bid to travel to Nationals. The Roller Hockey Club is no stranger to the National tournament, having previous trips to the competition. After the 14 hour drive, the club played one to two games daily making their way to the semi-finals. The last game KSU had the lead of 1-0 the majority of the game. The opponent, California State University at Fullerton, scored with 2 minutes remaining in the third period. With this score bringing the teams to a tie to round off end of regulation. While in overtime, CSU scored ending the game with a 2-1 lead over KSU.

                    While the end wasn't the result the team was hoping for, the Roller Hockey Club is already looking forward to next season. A few of the team members have graduated and the team is looking to recruit new players. They are also planning on playing in a few tournaments this summer with their eyes set on returning to Nationals again next year.

                    Roller Hockey was established as a club team at KSU in 2006. The game of roller hockey is very fast paced, with only four skaters and goalie competing on each team during competitions. The club practices during the week and occasionally on the weekend at their home rink in Snellville, GA and competes against teams like Florida State, Florida Gulf Coast, and Virginia Tech.

                    The club has a laid back atmosphere and considers themselves a tight knit group of friends as well as teammates. Chappell thinks KSU Club Sports is a great opportunity to meet new people and grow as a person. "College is not just about classes. [It is an opportunity to] take your mind off of school while still being involved." Club Sports gives you a chance to do something outside of the classroom and you are able to play something you like to play. Chappell has been playing roller hockey since he was 5 years old, and the opportunity to still play and compete with Club Sports is one of the reasons Chappell chose to attend KSU. He also credits the programs to giving him a chance to develop as a person, learn skills like leadership and fundraising and grow other strengths.

                    For more information on Club Sports, visit: or email for general inquiries.

                    Interested in joining Roller Hockey? Email Trystan & other club members at

                  • Student with 4 Intramural Sports champion tshirts

                    Recent graduate, Tanner Hill has the unique distinction of being a 4 time Intramural Ultimate Frisbee Champion. Tanner first got involved with Intramural Sports with his on-campus ministry group, Cru. This group played various sports like kickball and ultimate frisbee. In 2015, Tanner joined another Intramural Team, "Just Here for the Shirt", and this is where history was made. First being a co-captain and then a captain the following years ('16, '17, & '18) pressure was on, as the team had never lost the championship. Tanner wanted to keep this tradition alive and had his goals set high. Not letting the pressure get to the team, they keep the competition light and made sure that they were there just to have fun. This strategy seemed to pay off and as the team name suggested, they were successful in winning the coveted Intramural Champion T-Shirt each year.

                    With graduation in the coming days, Tanner wants to encourage KSU students to get involved with Intramural Sports. "It's a great way to meet friends, stay active and have fun while you are doing it." Having the opportunity to play Ultimate Frisbee as an Intramural Sport made Tanner want to stay longer at KSU. He was actively involved with other activities during his time at KSU such as being an officer in the Club Sport Climbing team, an active participant on Nature Bound trips, and working in the Climbing Gym.

                    Congratulations Tanner on your 4-time champion success! Who's ready to take the championship this fall?

                  • 2 students with medals from gymnastics competition

                    Jazmine Woods and Elizabeth Pfaff are all smiles when reflecting on their time competing at Nationals with the KSU Club Gymnastics team. The team, also nicknamed the “flipping owls”, traveled to Daytona, FL the weekend of April 11-13, 2019 to compete against other club teams involved with the National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs. The team is not new to competing at Nationals. For Woods, this was her third trip. The club brought 7 of the 10 team members to compete. While it is a competition, Woods and Pfaff stressed that everyone wants each other to do well and are very supportive cheering throughout the day full of events. Competitors included the University of Georgia, University of Florida, Emory, Florida State University, University of Tennessee, University of Kentucky, James Madison University, among others! Having fun is a large part of Nationals, club members were able to interact with peers from other Universities, enjoy some beach time, and even help to break the World Record for the most people completing a standing back tuck at one time.

                    Jazmine Woods, a senior exercise science major, has been part of the team for three years and attributes her time as the “best years of gymnastics ever”. Woods says she went to compete and just have fun. Although finals day was nerve racking, her attitude and skills helped her claim the title of National Champion on the uneven bars and finished 6th place overall. Scores are based on the events of the vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercises. Support from her teammates helped Woods push those nerves aside. The uneven bars are Woods favorite event she loves feeling weightless and free swinging around and between the bars. It was a great way to end her senior year!

                    Elizabeth Pfaff, a freshman exercise science major, also traveled to Florida to compete at Nationals. Pfaff also went not expecting to medal, and just focus on having a good time. However, after working hard all season to get her skills back, she placed 6th on the balance beam. She has been competing in gymnastics since 6 years old and the balance beam has been a favorite event and also her strongest.

                    The club already has their sights set on next season. They plan to focus on repairing their injuries and then will get back to practice and working on developing their skills for next season. Competition usually begins in the fall semester, with a heavier season between January and April. The team’s home gym is North Metro Gymnastics center where practices occur two times per week. If you are looking to join the Club Gymnastics team, reach out to

                    Both team members can’t recommend joining club sports enough, no matter what the sport! They stress, especially to new students, to get involved. “Club sports helps to keep you active and gives you a group with similarities to bond with.” If nothing else, it’s someone to go to The Commons with! Other perks of club sports include professional development, meeting a lot of new people, having your own workout facility at the Owls Nest, athletic training services.

                    For more information on Club Sports, visit: or email for general inquires.

                    Follow along with Club Gymnastics updates on Instagram @theflippinowls

                  • Student with medal from mountain bike competition

                    Meet Owen Witcher, a member of KSU's Club Cycling Team, who recently won the mountain biking Dual Slalom and placed 6th in the Downhill at the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships in Missoula, Montana. Owen took the podium in Dual Slalom along with several Colorado riders after five rounds of racing.

                    Owen has been shredding since he was 6 years old and started his mountain biking career at 15 years old. The adrenaline rush of mountain biking makes him feel right at home. Owen’s favorite trail to ride is Blankets Creek in Woodstock, Georgia. Owen has been riding with KSU’s Club Cycling team for just over a year and is grateful for their support and fun memories.

                    Congrats on such a big achievement Owen! We can't wait to see you race next mountain biking season!