Rising Stars Spotlight: Abri Forrest

Abri Forrest is an Athletic Academic Coordinator at Lindenwood University, where she serves eight teams. Forrest is a graduate of Western Kentucky, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Sport Management and Master of Science in Recreation and Sport Administration with a concentration in Intercollegiate Athletic Administration. Abri's educational experience at WKU was second to none, and incredible professors molded her that she cannot brag on them enough. Abri is grateful for the hands-on experience she gained at WKU, being an intern with Learfield IMG, Athletic Marketing, and the Student-Athlete Success Center, which solidified her desire to work in this industry. The Women's Leadership Symposium in 2020 altered the course of Abri's professional life, and the energy Team Awesome gave her in the middle of the pandemic is something she will never forget.

Why did you join Women Leaders, and how has the organization helped you in your career?

During my first year of grad school, I heard so many great things about this organization. Dr. Lacee’ Carmon-Johnson spoke highly about being a member and I really look up to her, so that was inciting. Shortly after that encounter, my friend Eboni Jackson attended WLS 2019 and could not stop talking about it when she came back. She pushed me to apply – I mean she literally handed me the computer with the website loaded and I am so thankful she did! Becoming a member has helped me grow my network and given me so many resources that are not only applicable to my career, but in my everyday life as well. 

What do you enjoy most about working in student-athlete academic advising?

I am only six months in, but I enjoy connecting with the students the most. Cultivating genuine relationships and helping them navigate their college by sharing my personal stories is awesome. I try to help them not make the same mistakes I did. I haven’t had the privilege of having any graduates yet, but I imagine I will enjoy those moments, too.  

How have you felt supported during your transition to your first-full time role at Lindenwood University?

Moving in a pandemic and learning a new role is hard, but my circle and the people who paved the way for me in this industry are always there whenever I need anything. I appreciate those in my corner more than I could ever express with my words. I am a 'do it yourself' kind of person, but I have learned to let people in, ask for help, and lean on them in this transition and it’s made all the difference. 

What does Black History Month mean to you, and how do you honor this important celebration?

Black History Month means everything to me. It’s a time to pay homage to those who came before me. I honor it by immersing myself in my culture – reading books, watching documentaries, and listening to podcasts (shoutout to StartHERFive) about and by my people. I also love to listen to my grandparents tell me stories, it’s humbling to say the least and reminds me of how far we have come since they were my age. I am grateful for everything they endured to pave the way for my generation. 

In what way was attending the Women’s Leadership Symposium (WLS) virtually, just as impactful as an in-person professional development event? 

While WLS was virtual, it was nothing short of amazing! I am a little shy and introverted to my core so sometimes networking is not my favorite thing. I was almost forced to come out of that, but WLS helped me to grow and not think of it as a daunting task. Now, I LOVE hopping on calls with new people and hearing about their journey. The energy from this virtual conference literally had me dancing on my coffee table, I was pumped. It was engaging so I wasn’t just mindlessly staring at my computer all day. The conference was truly a bright spot in the middle of so much uncertainty. Shoutout to WLS 20!

This or that:

Valentine’s Day or Galentine’s Day? 
Valentine’s Day
Instagram or Twitter?

Twitter! All. Day. 
Take-Out or Cooking?
Hmmmm… both. Cooking is a stress reliever for me, but I do love exploring new restaurants. 

What is your favorite Women Leaders’ membership offering? 

Everything! But if I had to choose, Circle Calls. There are a variety of them so there’s something for everyone. The hour calls are really a pick me up in the middle of the day, and I learn so much from each one. They have provided me with information I have implemented in my life on a daily basis, and I cannot think of one that was not helpful in some way. 

What is one thing you’re looking forward to both personally and professionally this spring?

Personally – I am looking forward to (hopefully) spending more time with those I love and actually getting to explore this new place I live in. Professionally – I am looking forward to growing and becoming a better version of myself to make a difference in someone’s life. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to fellow Rising Stars?

Just one? That’s so hard. Be resilient. Smooth seas never make skillful sailors – your first year will have bumps, that’s inevitable. Always stay true to who you are and grow through everything you go through. Find people who will be there for you when things get tough. You can’t carry everything by yourself, having a community will get you through. Be accepting of help and criticism, then strive to be better each and every day. It’s okay to make mistakes, just use them to propel you forward. 

Rising Stars is a members-only program designed to assist emerging professionals in developing, connecting, and advancing in their careers. If you're a student, intern, graduate assistant, or young professional with less than three years of full-time experience, this is the program for you!

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