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Feb. 28, 2011
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Northwest Missouri State University student Angela Wasko admits freely that she has little interest in football. But when there's a valuable learning experience and networking opportunity involved it becomes a different ballgame.
So when Wasko's cousin extended an invitation to help with security efforts at this year's Super Bowl in Dallas, Texas, Wasko seized the opportunity.
Wasko's cousin is employed by a firm that contracts with the NFL to provide security and guest services at the Super Bowl. Aware of Wasko's interest in public relations and advertising, her cousin knew the Super Bowl would provide hands-on experience Wasko could use.
"It was worth it," Wasko said afterward without hesitation. "I would do it again."
A junior from Pocahontas, Iowa, Wasko is majoring in public relations and minoring in advertising and interactive digital media.
She flew to Dallas Thursday, Feb. 3, three days before the Super Bowl, and went to work the morning of Friday, Feb. 4, at the NFL Accreditation Center - the registration and transportation hub for the 10,000 game-day staff. During the two days prior to the big game, Wasko put in 10-hour days, assisting a work crew with the assembly of some 1,500 security badges, checking in staff and assisting with their training. She earned about $10 per hour.
On Super Bowl Sunday, Wasko left her hotel room at 3:15 a.m. and didn't return for almost 24 hours. Beginning at about 4:30 a.m., Wasko put in more than eight hours assisting with the check-in of thousands of security personnel at the Accreditation Center.
As the game time approached, Wasko and her partners headed to Cowboys Stadium, the behemoth domed stadium that hosted this year's Super Bowl.
"We got there and I just kind of had big eyes the whole time," she said. "We had driven by the stadium a couple times and it's just ginormous. Then you go inside and you just don't even know what to think. ... The concession stands are literally bigger than Bearcat Food Court, and they list prices on these big flat screen TVs."
While fans from across the country flock to the Super Bowl to watch their favorite teams, Wasko said she simply enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere. She compared the noise level in Cowboys Stadium to 30 times that of a Bearcat football game.
"I just kind of stood there after the halftime show, after the crowd had erupted, after the performance, and just took it all in because I was like, ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!'"
Wasko was designated as a "floater" during the game. Initially stationed in the suite level, Wasko watched as John Travolta and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders walked past her. At another point, she had a brush with Packers great Bart Starr.
Wasko was more interested, however, in interacting with ordinary fans. Later, she moved to the general seating areas to usher fans and stood post in an entryway, where she assisted fans and obliged fans who asked her to snap photos for them.
"That's when I had the time of my life," she said, recalling a conversation she had with an 82-year-old Indiana man who was attending the Super Bowl with his son. "He had been dreaming about this his whole life. He was so excited, and his son was sitting next to him. That was a really neat experience."
Wasko arrived home with a handful of business cards and new skills that could help her when she pursues full-time employment.
Already, she's gained a wealth of experience to boost her resume. Last summer she was an intern with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, in Washington, D.C., and helped the organization fulfill the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Wasko also spent the summer of 2009 in the nation's capital, working as a program assistant for Citizenship Washington Focus. There, she was responsible for leading 1,700 youth throughout the capitol; she acquired a Washington, D.C., tour guide license, worked with United States congressmen and senators, conducted meetings, workshops and leadership activities.
While Wasko believes the right connections go a long way, she says Northwest has played a big role in preparing her to be successful.
"You have to know the material that you're taught in the classroom," she said. "I've had a lot of encouraging professors who have helped me succeed during my three years here at Northwest. I know they'll continue in the next year as I start looking for jobs and finding my first full-time job experience."
She also credits a lot of her success to the opportunities Northwest offers for students to get involved. Wasko is the lecture chair on the Student Activities Council, and she is a Student Ambassador.
"If you don't have experience then you're not going to get an internship," she said. "So being involved on Student Activities Council and being a Student Ambassador have allowed me to have something that I can put on my resume, and people can refer back to. It shows that I'm involved, that I can do things. That's the great part about Northwest. Your experience in and out of the classroom can take you to the big cities or wherever your heart desires."
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900
Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468