Exercise Science & Sport student plans for future of helping others through sports

Since coming to Millikin University from his hometown of Chicago, Serron Pettis has immersed himself in many opportunities related to both his interests and his major. As a senior majoring in sport & recreation management within Millikin’s School of Exercise Science & Sport (ESS), Serron’s involvement in athletics, on and off the field, started his first year.

Serron Pettis lifting weights


He’s been an athlete, having competed in track and field and is a member of the cheerleading team, which qualified for the 2022 National Cheerleading Association's (NCA) College Cheer Nationals in Daytona Beach, Fla. He’s also assisted with recording basketball games and serving as manager of the football team. According to Pettis, he’s “having the time of his life,” at Millikin, learning versatile skills and discovering the full scope of careers in the sports industry. 

“It’s all about finding the right fit for you at Millikin,” he said, discussing how he transitioned to the sport & recreation management program when his previous major wasn’t the right fit for his goals. “Ever since I changed to this major, I’ve loved everything about my courses and my teachers. They are so enthusiastic about sports and giving me the knowledge I need for this major.” His change in a major allowed him to take more diverse courses, something that Serron says Millikin encourages of its students. 

From a summer internship at the Decatur Indoor Sports Center (DISC) to capturing drone footage of Big Blue football games for the coaches and athletes to analyze performance, Serron’s experiences have not only shown him the many careers he could pursue, but also provided him with the skills to thrive in those careers. Through ESS, Serron also had the opportunity to travel abroad to London and planned to visit the University of Winchester, though the trip was canceled due to COVID-19. 

Serron attributes his preparation for a future in the sports industry to Millikin’s hands-on approach to education.

  • Serron Pettis
    • Millikin has that twist of Performance Learning, meaning that I actually get out into the community or into the field I want to pursue and do the work. I can see what it really means to do that job.
    — Serron Pettis , Class of '23
  • He also explained that, to him, the most important part of Performance Learning is the ability to learn from errors. “While you’re learning, you may make a mistake, but you’ll also learn how to do it the right way. Either way, you learn from what you’re doing.” 

    After he graduates in May 2023, Serron plans to enroll in Millikin’s MBA program to improve his business knowledge and become a more well-rounded job candidate. Even before he graduates, however, Serron has already developed a plan for his future that includes several career options and contingencies. He has his sights set on becoming an athletic director and moving his way up into the collegiate level, becoming a facility manager and event coordinator and even a coach for gymnastics, a sport which he has more than a decade of experience.

    What those plans all have in common is achieving Serron’s goal to use sports to help people. “I want to be in sports in a way that I can help people. I also want to coordinate events that make a difference.” 

    Serron feels prepared to take on this goal thanks to the education and support he has received at Millikin.


    • Millikin immersed me in a community full of people who take care of me, people who listen to my ideas and people who are invested in my work. The connections I’ve made at Millikin will help me get started in my career in sports.
    — Serron Pettis , Class of '23