A 2018 article released by Forbes magazine found that within the first seven seconds of meeting another person will have an impression of who you are and within a tenth of a second an individual will make determinations on traits of trustworthiness. Putting that into perspective for sports fans, people are making determinations about you 2.58 seconds faster than it took for Jamaica’s Usain Bolt to set the world record (9.58 seconds) at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin, Germany on August 16, 2009.
As for this author’s impression of 2020 Salem graduate and former soccer standout Courtney Chaplin it would be of her on team photo day in August 2019. When asked to get a serious photo and a smiling photo of Chaplin, she quickly responded “no thank you, I don’t like smiling in my photo.” I knew immediately that she was serious about her sport and over the course of the next eight months I found that she was just as intense about life and her career pursuits about the game that she played at Varsity Field on the Salem College campus.
Chaplin, who also considered attending Converse, Barton and Randolph, chose Salem because she wanted the balance of academics and athletics in her college life. “Academics was No. 1 for me, being a double major,” said Chaplin. “I knew that Salem’s pre-law program is outstanding and most everyone that applies from Salem gets into law school. Plus, I got the chance to play soccer as well and I looked at places that would give me a chance to play.”
A four-time letter winner for the Salem soccer program, Chaplin capped off her senior year by winning the Jess Byrd Scholar Athlete Award in May. She ended the 2019 season by tying junior Ellie Montes for the team lead in goals (six), while handing out two assists and finishing with the second-most points (14). She tallied 25 shots, including 13 shots on goal, over the course of the season and played in 14 of the team’s 15 matches. Chaplin received USA South All-Tournament Team honors as the team reached the semifinals of the USA South Conference Tournament.
In the classroom, Chaplin was responsible for a 3.991 GPA as she is finishing off her degree in business administration and political science, where she has received departmental honors over the course of her time at Salem. She left her indelible mark on Salem by serving as a Chief Junior Marshal for the class of 2020 (top 10 in graduating class) and was is active in her campus community where she served as President of Sigma Beta Delta (international honor society in business administration), President of Pi Gamma Mu (international honor society in social sciences), member of mortar board (senior academic and service honor society) and as a Salem Quest Center Tutor (recommended by senior faculty to tutor advanced level classes in accounting, finance, economics and statistics).
She was also panel speaker 2019 NC Political Science Association Conference with a presentation on “Russian Foreign Policy and Security for Sovereignty.” Additionally, she is the lead volunteer/coordinator for the REACH Women’s Network Conference and was the Salem Day of Service Student Leader.
Since graduating from Salem, Chaplin has joined Reynolds American Inc., working with Marketing Intelligence & Insights team. Reynolds American, a global company owned by British American Tobacco, aims to achieve United States market leadership by transforming the tobacco industry. The philanthropic organization focuses on green and entrepreneurship initiatives while building a better future through new products.
Chaplin described a new project using tobacco plants to find a cure for COVID-19 with Kentucky BioProcessing LLC, a company owned by Reynolds American. According to an article released by the Winston-Salem Journal, Kentucky BioProcessing “has been infecting fast-growing tobacco plants with a genetically modified coronavirus to see if it could produce antibodies for a possible vaccine.”
Chaplin’s new employer also apparently has her in its long-term plans in marketing intelligence where she will be taking part in a certificate program in business analytics from Cornell. The six-class certification is with professors in business analytics and is designed for working professionals with one class a month. As the highly-competitive Chaplin describes, “I am excited to be a student again, but I have a competitive drive to be at the top of the class. I will always have that desire to be first in my class.”
That competitive spirit, which came out on the soccer field, has never left Chaplin. As she describes her time on the pitch she reflects on it by saying that “the most important thing that has translated is learning interpersonal skills. People take them for granted, being difficult to have. I rank hard skills above soft skills in life. My leadership roles came from getting experience that transferred from Salem into the business world. Learning to include everyone in an email chain and something as simple as saying ‘good morning’ translates in the business world.”
While the short-term future has her taking classes at Cornell, Chaplin’s long-term goals are to attend law school—a dream that began when she was in ninth grade. The ever-analytical Chaplin was drawn to law because my “interest was to advocate all sides of the argument, ask a lot of questions, apply logical reasoning and talk to people. In addition to those things I want to be able to manage clients and manage projects, all concepts that I have applied Reynolds American.”
A goal of earning her J.D. (Doctor of Jurisprudence degree) or MBA (Master’s in Business Analytics), she sees herself continuing her career at Reynolds America for the long term. Chaplin describes that those pursuits “teach you a way of thinking, like in business, and returning to Reynolds American I would have a better understanding different concepts and aspects of business, allowing me to gain management positions.”
While her pursuits of additional degrees begin, those that influenced her at Salem will certain not be forgotten. Chaplin remains in close contact with political science Dr. David Foley, who she calls “like family.” Foley presented daily challenges and placed curiosity in the mind of Chaplin while challenging her and getting her to believe in herself.
Another key professor during Chaplin’s four-year stint at Salem was Alyson Francisco, who was described as “energizing those around her. She is passionate about what she does and it rubs off on you. She is both encouraging and goes out of her way to land a role or get an opportunity all while being a great mentor.”
Chaplin has kept a watchful eye on the political landscape and the ways that it is impacting the laws as well. With the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she elegantly described her passing. “I am impressed with her life and how much she did. She started going to law school while her mother was sick with cancer and knew it was so much hard work. I value that personally because hard work pays off. It shows up every day and you gain so much from working hard because get disciplined as a person.”
The death of Ginsburg has left an opening on the Supreme Court, which is expected to be filled by nominee Amy Coney Barrett. However, Chaplin describes the changes that might be headed for the highest court in the land with caution. “I am a traditionalist I want the judicial branch to be bi-partisan and with all the politics that surrounding the nominee right now I am concerned. The judicial branch supports this, which is sad to see, because we are heading down a path that will lose a major piece of democracy because we have made it so political. Unfortunately, I think we are compromising democracy.”
Chaplin also takes her role as a young alumnae at Salem very seriously as well. “I have realized since graduating how important it is to give advice to help others,” she said. “Networking is the most important thing to anyone and being in the Salem network, even offering advice, is highly important. After all it is the advice of my network that has made me successful.
Degree(s) Earned: Bachelor’s in Business Administration and Political Science
My degree has obviously helped me immensely, but it is the holistic experience that I got at Salem that has helped me achieve success in my career so far. Being a student athlete consistently challenged me to manage time, have a positive attitude, deal with stress, positively take and apply feedback, and work calmly and smartly in times of high stress and pressure. Each department at Salem challenged me in a different way that has enabled me the ability to apply this practice in a practical way now.
I would say the most prevalent concept I have applied in my career from being on a soccer team at Salem, is simply the mindset of teamwork and being an advocate for your team. I feel towards my current work team much the same way that I felt on my soccer teams growing up. I stay dedicated and loyal to my team, try to always be an advocate for my team, and overall just seek to make my team successful no matter what.
I would say that Salem truly gives you the opportunity to be a student athlete, and to take full advantage of that. Salem is filled to the brim with opportunities educationally, athletically, and professionally, and it’s critical to make the most of it and be proactive in building your future. I would also add that the experiences you have as a student athlete will absolutely prepare you for the workforce, and to practice your interpersonal and “soft” skills during your time in college to prepare you best for after you graduate.
The absolute most critical advice I received that I apply every day and will apply for the rest of my life is from Ocky. She always told me that everyone makes mistakes, and it is more important how you respond to them than what you did. I think most athletes have heard this, but to take it and apply it will really change your life. Making mistakes does not stop on the field, it happens in life and in work, so it’s really important to keep a positive attitude and stay calm - mistakes are usually how you learn. Managers, mentors, coaches, and teammates will take higher notice of how you respond to adversity than anything else.