It's that time of year where students graduate from high school and
college and close a chapter in their lives and look forward to new
adventures and opportunities. GoHorseShow talked to five recent college
graduates including: Erin Bradshaw, Maggie Fortune, Courtney Chown, J.
Lauren Hill, and Stacie Lundquist. We wanted to find out more about their plans for
their career and in the show ring.
Erin Bradshaw----This striking blonde is well known as the daughter of NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Terry Bradshaw as well as the owner of the APHA World Champion pleasure horse, John Simon. What some people may not know is that she recently graduated from the University of North Texas located in Denton, Texas with a Fashion Merchandising degree and a minor in Business.
"It feels amazing-- it’s nice to know that I set a goal and completed it. There are so many people that go to college and they tend to not finish or they switch their major ten different times," Bradshaw explains. "I am very pleased with myself because I set a goal for myself, decided a major and I stuck with it and never looked back."
When GoHorseShow asked Erin if she was nervous about going into the "real world", she did mention that she was a little apprehensive. "I am a little nervous because I am not sure which career path I want to choose, but I would say that overall I am pretty stoked. I’m ready to work and make my own money without having to study and write papers."
Bradshaw says she owes a lot of her success to her mother. "She is one of the most successful women that I know, and I have always looked up to her. She has always been there for me and never doubted my goals and what I want to do and accomplish in my life. I just love my momma so much!"
Despite her busy schedule, Erin did show horses throughout her college career. She said it was not easy but it taught her to plan in advance and coordinate schedules.
"I was always able to make it happen with the exception of having to work during my internship this year--that definitely took away from it some, but with John Simon breeding, it worked out perfectly. I will show horses for the rest of my life, it is something I am so extremely passionate about, and I would not give it up for anything. I feel like if I didn’t show horses I wouldn’t be 'Erin.'"
As far as school-related accomplishments, "I made the dean’s list multiple times throughout my four years at college, and I was inducted into three honors societies. It’s the one thing about me that people don’t really know-- behind the blonde comments and blonde hair, I actually have some brains," Erin says laughing.
Courtney Chown---"It's a great feeling! I had the most amazing college experience, and I am now ready to enter the 'real world,'" Courtney exclaims, when we asked her about her college experience and finally graduating.
Chown was a Strategic Communication Major (AD/PR) and also received a minor in Business at Texas Christian University located in Fort Worth, Texas. The NCAA All-American says that she is not nervous at all about finishing college as she already has a job. She will be working at National Ropers Supply as an assistant buyer. Courtney says that showing horses taught her a great deal about how to succeed in life.
"Showing horses has taught me to be a hard worker...when I think I am working hard, I try to work even harder," she says. "It has taught me to be very self-driven, to set goals that I can work towards, and so much more."
The All-American did not show on the quarter horse circuit while she was in college, because she put all her efforts into the TCU Equestrian team. One of her proudest accomplishments was being named an All-American and she was also undefeated during her 2010-2011 season.
Chown said her proudest equine accomplishment was in her last year in youth when she was Reserve in Horsemanship at the AQHYA World Show.
"I prepared my horse myself that year, and it was just a great and humbling experience," she recalls. "I hope to have the feeling again soon. Now that I am done--I cannot wait to get back in the show pen, needless to say I am hooked for life!"
Maggie Fortune---First team Academic All-American Maggie Fortune recently graduated from the University of South Carolina with degrees in History and Political Science. Fortune says that she will miss not going back to Columbia in the fall.
"I’ve come home for the summer every year for the past four, but somehow knowing that I’m not going back to Columbia in August makes it foreign territory. As is probably true with any transition period, it just takes getting used to!" Fortune told GoHorseShow.
As far as her future, she says she is nervous but excited about the new chapter in her life. "I’m not the kind of person who can really handle being idle for too long—I like having goals and ambitions— but I’m also not sure what I want to do with my life," Maggie says. "So I’m just a little anxious about figuring it out. But, luckily, I’m young and USC did a good job of preparing me, and opening up a lot of doors, so it’s mostly just a matter of deciding which one to walk through."
Fortune credits her equestrian coach, Ruth Sorrel and her teammates at USC for helping her prepare for life outside the university. "They really did a lot to make me realize that losing a ride doesn’t mean I’m a failure who let everyone down—it just means I’m human," she reminisces."They definitely taught me how to handle defeat in a much healthier, more productive way, and what’s truly amazing about our team is that I know I will have their support forever."
During her college career some of her favorites accomplishments was the USC equestrian team winning the SEC Equestrian Championships and having three of their Nationals competitors recognized for All-American in horsemanship this year. "That made me really proud of my girls!" Maggie says.
Fortune also mentioned that she was proud of graduating Magna Cum Laude; having the work she did for her senior thesis nominated for a University research award; and of course, the fact that USC had the highest proportion of girls acknowledged as academic All-Americans this year!
Fortune says that she is looking forward to getting back in the show ring with her mare, Fantastic Invitation, better known as Amy.
"Collegiate Equestrian has really taught me a lot about appreciating what an amazing horse I have, and about truly enjoying the ride— whether its perfect or not," she wisely says. "So I’m just excited to go show my horse and have some fun with the pressure off."
J Lauren Hill---This recent college graduate of Lyon College is not finished with her education. This ambitious young lady was accepted into Saint Louis University School of Law and eventually wants to start her own firm and represent children in the foster system.
"Graduating has given me a great sense of accomplishment," Hill says about graduating with a degree in psychology. "It is an amazing feeling to look back on all my hours of studying and internship and see that they have truly paid off. I am also extremely excited to start the next chapter of my life. I cannot wait to get married and attend law school."
Hill credits her mother, Connie who runs the Southern Belle, for helping her succeed in college and in the show arena. "She has shown what it means to work hard and serve others. I plan to follow her model and work hard throughout law school. I hope to be a successful woman and active in the horse industry, like my mother," she says.
Hill showed Absolut Martini Girl throughout her first semester of college. Unfortunately, she had too many other commitments to show during the rest of her college career. Hill also will not be able to show during law school, but she hopes to return to showing as soon as possible. Her favorite accomplishment would be winning the NYATT Western Pleasure class at Congress in 2008 with Absolut Martini Girl.
"She is such an amazing mare and I am so blessed to own here. I was riding with a red tie on my arm, in memory of Alex Blackwood," Lauren recalls. "Horse showing was such a great experience for me. I learned a lot about hard work, dedication, perseverance, and leadership. The hard work and dedication I learned while showing helped me get through my college career. The confidence and leadership I learned while showing gave me the skills I needed to be president of the Epsilon Rho chapter of Phi Mu, Social Council, and Psi Chi."
Hill adds, "I enjoyed all the philanthropy work I did through my sorority. We worked year round to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. All the fundraisers and events taught me so much about working with my sisters to serve others. My other favorite memory would have to be graduation. It was so rewarding to see four years of hard work pay off."
Stacie Lundquist---APHA exhibitor Stacie Lundquist recently graduated from Kansas Wesleyan University with degrees in Nursing, and Sociology with a minor in Psychology. Her future career goals include being a trauma certified registered nurse working in the Emergency Department. After some time, she wants to continue her education to become a Nurse Practitioner at a rural health clinic.
"I am feeling overwhelmed now that I have graduated. There is so much for a new graduate to learn in my chosen profession," she says. "Showing horses has helped me prepare for my career because I have learned how having a strong work ethic is important because so much can be accomplished from doing a job and doing it well."
Stacie showed every year she was in college and will continue to show. Now that she has graduated she's really looking forward to showing more. During her college career, Lundquist was still able to make the Top 20 list for Classic Amateur in the APHA every year, and in 2011, while in the nursing program, Stacie and her mare, Git Ya Some O That, were High Point Junior Amateur at the Pinto World Championships.
One memory that stands out during her college career was when she attended a horse show while also trying to study for exams.
"Becky Cummings and I went to a circuit in Illinois during the school year. We both were stepping over mountains of nursing books in my living quarter trailer all weekend. On the way home, I fell asleep holding my medical/surgical book with a pen still in my hand because I was trying to study for an exam I had the next morning. She took a great picture of it. These are memories I will never forget."
Stacie says she would like to thank, her adviser, Tor Wynn, for helping her throughout her college career; the nursing faculty at Kansas Wesleyan University for teaching her the necessary skills for her profession; and her grandmother, Mary Ann Vidricksen, for always helping her in any way she could with school and the horses.
GoHorseShow wishes all the recent high school and college graduates good luck with their careers and also hope to see them back in the show arena!