The Park Promising Young Professional Award recognizes a Park University alumnus/a who shows exceptional promise of leadership and contribution to his/her profession and/or community. The recipient of this award will have graduated from Park within the last five years and be under the age of 35.

   Sarah Hopkins-Chery, '07, MA '09
      Park Promising Young Professional, 2013

What do you want to be when you grow up? That has never been a simple question for Sarah Hopkins-Chery, ’07, M.A.C.L. ’09. For now, she’s focusing on her top three choices: college professor, basketball coach and airport manager. Hopkins-Chery is already delivering on her promising potential with proven success across all three career paths.

Prior to joining Park University as an adjunct instructor of communications arts, Hopkins-Chery earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology (with honors) in 2007 and a Masters of Arts in Communications and Leadership degree in 2009 from Park where she was also a standout student-athlete.

The Essex, England, native was a three-time Daktronics/NAIA Scholar-Athlete honoree. As captain of Park’s women’s basketball team, she helped lead the Pirates to its first appearance in the NAIA national tournament in the 2005-06 season. She also ran cross country and track and field for the Pirates. Today, Hopkins-Chery is serving her second season as Park’s women’s basketball assistant coach.

When she’s not teaching or coaching, she oversees 60 fleet service agents as a shift manager for US Airways, a promotion from customer service supervisor awarded soon after achieving her master’s degree. Hopkins-Chery started in the airline industry in 2009 as a customer service agent with Delta Air Lines.

Hopkins-Chery said she couldn’t imagine sitting behind a desk doing the same thing every day. Clearly, she has crafted a career path where boredom is never an issue. At the airport, in the classroom or on the court, Hopkins-Chery relishes the opportunities and challenges of working with each passenger, each student and each athlete who is fortunate enough to cross her capable path. “It’s more important than ever to listen carefully to understand the unique perspective of each individual in order to achieve common goals. Quality communication is at the heart of all that I love to do,” she said.

Where does Hopkins-Chery find the drive and discipline to balance three demanding careers? Her answer is simple: sports. “Sports have been a vital part of my life. Being a student-athlete taught me a lot about leadership and teamwork,” she said. “At Park, my coaches taught me more than the game of basketball. I learned about time management, setting priorities and the consequences of my actions. Competing in sports provides a solid foundation for creating the discipline and positive habits to be successful in business and in all aspects of life.”

As for the future, it’s not surprising to hear that Hopkins-Chery has big plans. “I would like to move into upper airline management, become a college basketball head coach and achieve a doctorate in sports psychology,” she said. To achieve it, Hopkins-Chery embraces the simple equation: If you work hard, you’ll achieve your dreams. “For all of us, there will be things that happen along the way that challenge us, but just as in sports, it’s important to stay focused on the goal no matter the circumstances.”

To understand Hopkins-Chery’s drive and determination, it’s important to understand her views on hard work. “Some people complain about hard work, but it’s not like that for me. Even though I’m juggling three careers, I love every minute,” she said. “If you enjoy what you do, the work doesn’t seem so hard and success doesn’t seem so difficult to achieve.”