March 3, 2023 | NEWS | By Evan Arvizu
On Monday, students and faculty gathered in the Kathryn Mohrman Theatre in Armstrong Hall to hear First Mondays speaker, Melanie Auguste, discuss what she learned on her journey from Colorado College to Nike.
Melanie Auguste is a distinguished CC alumnus who graduated in 2009 with a degree in Economics. In her time at CC, she was a four-year starter on the women’s basketball team, winning the Jostens Award for Most Outstanding Player in Division III her senior year. She went on to receive her J.D. M.B.A. from the University of California Los Angeles.
She currently works for Nike as the Vice President of Global Brand Narrative, Purpose, and Athlete Marketing, working with some of their most iconic athletes to develop branding and advertising that reflects the mission of the brand.
Some student athletes were in attendance, excited to hear from someone who has been in their shoes and knows what it’s like to balance academic and athletic pressures and goals.
Auguste began with a quote from the late Kobe Bryant, “You have to dance beautifully in the box that you’re comfortable dancing in. My box was to be extremely ambitious within the support of basketball. Your box is different than mine. Everybody has their own. It’s your job to try to perfect it and make it as beautiful of a canvas as you can make it. And if you have done that, then you have lived a successful life.”
This concept of finding your box, or your purpose, was a thread that ran throughout the speech. Auguste started by speaking about her personal journey starting in high school. She was a talented multi-sport athlete with dreams of going Division I and her mountain, or goal, was athletic success.
After experiencing a breakdown her sophomore year, her mountain shifted. The mountain became just wanting to live and seeking steadiness. She had to change her mindset and began pursuing a more holistic approach to life, focusing on a balance of athletics, academics, and personal life, which led her to playing basketball at CC.
At CC, she again set new goals, keeping her holistic approach in mind. The two biggest goals: be the national player of the year and work for Nike. During her four years, she achieved one of those goals. She became the National Player of the Year her senior year. However, coming out of college, her dream of working for Nike wasn’t yet in reach.
Auguste had applied for an internship with Nike for years before finally getting the position. But that role ended right as the job market crashed in 2008, meaning that she was not offered a job afterwards. This was an obstacle, but instead of giving up on her dream of working for Nike, she decided to take a different path. She pursued her J.D. M.B.A. and worked nine internships in her four years at UCLA.
With her education and work experience, she ended up being the perfect fit for Nike when the opportunity came around again. She emphasized the importance of staying open to different paths towards the same goal. Her original plan didn’t work out, but she kept the ultimate goal in mind, went a different way, and found success.
“This message really resonated with me,” said Emma Faraon ‘25, a sophomore on the volleyball team. “I’ve struggled with feeling like I have to follow a certain path, in my career and in volleyball. Knowing that the path isn’t the same for everyone is super helpful. The path that is genuinely for you, that is going to make you happy and help you in the future is different for everyone. It was important to hear this vocalized.”
Auguste also discussed lessons she had learned at Nike, including six traits that make great athletes great. These six traits, while beneficial for athletes, are important for everyone to implement when working towards a goal. The six include self-talk, process, knowing your why, visualization, grit, and ownership.
When asked about how to set realistic horizons and goals, Auguste said, “When you set out to do something you have to know that there is going to be a tide. There’s gonna be a high, and a low, and you’re going to fail. But, if what you are pursuing is right for you, when you stumble, you will get up and keep going.”
Auguste emphasized the idea that failure is inevitable. Everyone will face obstacles and shortcomings on the way to their goals. She encouraged the audience to embrace this adversity and utilize the “So what. Now what?” approach. This means being resilient, stopping to reevaluate and learn from those experiences, and ultimately pushing through failure.
She also addressed the possibility of setting goals when you don’t know what you want your path to be, relieving some worries as she said, “The goal can just be figuring it out. That’s okay.”
Auguste ended by encouraging the audience to pursue their goals and embrace the process while keeping an open mind. “Believe the work will come back eventually,” she said. She was met with a standing ovation.