By Rich Schneider
IU Communications Specialist
IUPUI sports management student Jessica Bennett looked surprised when a stranger handed her a long-stemmed rose in a glass vase Feb. 25. But this wasn’t a belated Valentine or an episode of “The Bachelor.” It was in honor of her nomination for a ROSE Award from Visit Indy.
Bennett was sitting in the office of David Pierce, an assistant professor in sports management, at the time. Pierce, who nominated her for the award, had asked Bennett to come to his office on the pretense of discussing her plans for the future so he and others — including IU School of Physical Education and Tourism Management Dean Jay Gladden — could watch the surprise presentation.
Bennett’s future plans now include a gala dinner March 18 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, when she and 102 other ROSE Award nominees will be recognized as “service champions who go beyond the expectation of their job descriptions and leave lasting impressions that bring true meaning to the phrase ‘Hoosier hospitality.’”
Pierce was clearly pleased that such a remarkable student was going to be honored. Simply put, he says, Bennett has made a significant impact on the school and the sport management program specifically.
In nominating her for the award, Pierce wrote, “Jessica Bennett has established the benchmark that we will expect from students in the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management in the future. Her service to the university in form of PETM Student Council president, Sport Management Club vice president, operations assistant for IUPUI athletics and intern at the Conference and Events Center has been foundational to establishing a culture of commitment and success for these organizations.”
Pierce also cited Bennett’s commitment, passion, leadership and ability to raise the level of expectation and achievement of other students.
Pierce said that ability was evident when Bennett was recruited to help train 30 physical education and tourism management students to help during the 500 Festival mini-marathon. On race day, the students had been assigned to work alongside employees from a company; but a labor dispute within the company prevented those employees from volunteering that day. Bennett took charge of the situation and developed a new plan so the student volunteers could cover the water stations the students had been assigned to serve with the missing business employees.
As a result, the 500 Festival honored the students with an award for their service, which the school proudly displays in its offices. “This award serves as a reminder to other students that IUPUI PETM students can achieve at a level of excellence recognized by professionals in our field,” Pierce said.
When Roberta Tisdul, convention services manager with Visit Indy, presented Bennett with her rose, she told Bennett she was among a very select group. She represented the cream of the crop.
“Facing just as many life circumstances as other students, Jessica refuses to let anything impede her progress towards building her personal brand defined by leadership, commitment and excellence,” Pierce said.