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May 6, 2020

Alton Kirksey: A path to athletic success

May 7, 2020

Alton B. Kirksey is a graduating senior in the College of Education and is one of the college's student commencement speakers for the Class of 2020. This story was repurposed from the College of Education.

Alton B. Kirksey’s goal was to graduate in four years. 

During those four years, he also became a coach and personal trainer, started a nonprofit, helped found a student group for minorities and worked for MSU's women’s basketball team.

Now, Kirksey, a kinesiology major, is representing the Class of 2020 as one of two students selected as commencement speakers for the College of Education. 

“Being a Spartan means to work hard and to input your will into shaping the future,” he said. “This will guide me going forward by keeping me hopeful and having faith that I will be able to one day impact the world.”

Making the path

While at MSU, Kirksey quickly learned that he would be immersed in cultures different from his own and that kinesiology is a program that can prepare you for a wide array of experiences.

He explored athletic training and strength and conditioning before realizing that supporting athletes through fitness training and coaching is where he excels. 

“I fell in love with the kinesiology program,” said Kirksey, who especially credits two of his instructors, Andre Bateman and Alex Brunfeldt, for helping him understand the physics of the human body. 

Coach in training

Outside the classroom, Kirksey became involved in founding Minorities Ma’KIN’ Moves, the first student group in kinesiology dedicated to supporting underrepresented students and establishing an inclusive community. 

He also joined Men of E.L.I.T.E., an MSU student group focused on “Exceeding Leadership and Innovating True Excellence.” When they took their message into his hometown, Kirksey found himself helping male high school seniors who hoped to become college athletes find alternate routes. 

It’s a story he can understand, having once dreamed of playing basketball for MSU. His school playing career ended after ninth grade, but he has continued playing his favorite sport ever since.

Kirksey also worked as the skills development coach for East Lansing High School's varsity women’s basketball team.

Kirksey was especially thrilled when he got the chance to intern for MSU Athletics, which helped him make connections and land another position as a personal trainer at IM Sports East.


He has achieved nearly all of his own goals, and he is ready for what’s next. Kirksey was recently admitted into the Sports Administration master’s program at Wayne State University.

Eventually, Kirksey says, the dream is to work for the Detroit Pistons.