Mentee Spotlight: Claire Burns and Carmen Rollizo

Claire Burns is an assistant director of development at University of Oklahoma and Carmen Rollizo is a student-athlete development assistant at University of South Carolina

1. If you could have a one-on-one conversation with anyone in history, who would it be and why?

Claire: Currently, Dr. Brene Brown. I have found her books and Ted talks very eye-opening about personal growth that can be used to better my own leadership style. Ultimately, that vulnerability is the key to connection and being a better leader. I love her discussions on our society having a scarcity problem, and would love to talk with her one-on-one about how to better empower those around us to be more vulnerable and lead our communities toward a more wholehearted approach.

Carmen: I would want to have a one-on-one conversation with Serena Williams because she has overcome so much adversity and worked very hard to get to the place she is at in her life. She also uses her platform as an athlete to stand up against social injustice.

2. What has your career path been?

Claire: Before I started in Athletics, I was a practicing Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Estate Planning Attorney. I was not being fulfilled by my work, and so I decided to returned to my college athletics roots (I ran track at the University of Kansas) to empower the next generation of student-athletes!

Carmen: I started out my college athletic career as an adidas Intern at the University of Louisville in the Student-Athlete Career and Leadership development department, then I was a graduate assistant at the University of Louisville in the academic department within athletics. Now I am in my current role at USC.

3. Who has had the greatest impact on your career to date?

Claire: In Athletics, I would say Zac Selmon has been an incredible mentor already in such a short time, as well as our AD, Mr. Castiglione. Both men are incredible supporters of diversity in Athletics, and they truly understand diversity and inclusion is a key to creating the best type of workplace culture. Additionally… it has been a very short period of time, but my mentor through Women Leaders, Erienne Roberts, is a total rockstar. I may be prone to excited exaggeration now and again (I’m Italian and an attorney) but I’m very serious about this, she has been such a great sounding board and advisor already. I can only wait to see what the next few months will bring!

Carmen: The person who had the greatest impact on my career to date is Kristia Worthy. She was my supervisor over this past summer. She took an investment in my professional development and pushed me to take more initiative in my work. She leads by example and exceeds expectations in everything she does.

4. Who is your mentor?

Claire: Erienne Roberts, Ithaca College

Carmen: My mentor is Hannah Delph

5. What is a highlight/positive experience you've gotten out of the program so far?

Claire: My experience has been amazing so far with the program. I am a bit of a non-traditional ‘rising star’ as I am not just finishing up or straight out of a Master’s program, but came into the Athletic Department world from practicing law. I was a college athlete at the University of Kansas, and truly loved and appreciated my experience. When I was looking for a different career field where I could still heavily utilize my legal education and background – athletics administration immediately appealed to me! Being paired with Erienne who can speak to the attorney/admin experience, has not only allowed me to have unique conversations tailored to our skill set but also general empowerment and life discussions that help me learn about this industry. She is an incredible advocate and has even helped me as an honest sounding board for diversity and inclusion work I am a part of at OU. In one of our first conversations, she encouraged me to be part of committees and programs around campus to diversify my portfolio of knowledge… I took her advice quite literally and am now on 4 boards/committees – the experience has been life changing, cup-filling, and inspiring… after all inspiring champions is what were all about right?

Carmen: My experience so far has been great. Joining Women Leaders and having her as a mentor has been amazing. She challenges me and checks in. Her personality is very positive while still being personable with me and I appreciate her encouragement. We are sometimes busy and go awhile without talking to each other, but who isn’t. I like that she is involved and not just a member in Women Leaders. She was one of the committee members who lead the New Member Orientation at National Convention.


Women Leaders in College Sports provides the opportunity for members to connect and grow together in a fully virtual mentorship program. The program runs in concordance with the academic year (September-May) In 2018, we were able to match 164 mentor/mentee pairs! For more information on the program, please click here. Please mark your calendars for July 2019 when we will open up applications for the next iteration of the Mentorship Program.

For further questions or inquiries, please contact Megan Cairns