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April 4, 2023

Student view: Finding my identity outside of basketball

Kamaria McDaniels is currently enrolled at Michigan State University, earning a master of arts in strategic communication. She played point guard for the women’s basketball team this season.

Kamaria McDaniels
Kamaria McDaniels

I was able to make my way back to my home state last offseason. After playing basketball at both Penn State and Baylor University, MSU was the perfect combination of school and athletics to help me succeed.

I was looking for a program that would give me actual skills, instead of just a focus. Michigan State had more to offer than only athletics for me, and after finding the StratCom program it felt like a no-brainer that this would be my next step.

Being a Spartan has been a lot of fun. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play again for about six months because of two knee surgeries, so to now be playing in front of all the Spartan fans, including my family, I feel a lot of gratitude.

There was a time I wasn’t sure I would get that feeling again. I missed the 2020-21 season due to injury, and played only 10 games at Baylor last season. I left and returned to Michigan for mental health reasons. 

Basketball became a sort of an idol for me, when I knew it shouldn’t. Getting through my injury is what forced me to rethink what was important to me, playing in the WNBA being one of those things.

Adversity, ironically, is what made me realize I’m much more than just a basketball player, and I can invest in myself as a person.

Being an athlete for so long takes your time away from doing a lot of normal things like creating friendships, reading books for fun and investing in relationships — at MSU I have enjoyed tapping into those things again.

Separating my identity from being tied only to basketball has also meant looking ahead to life after graduation, and dialing in on where my passion and career endeavors may take me.

Studying communication puts you in a position to be successful in any field that you choose. As someone who didn’t initially know if I was going to take the entrepreneurial or corporate route, having a universal skillset was important to me.

My academic plan is a flexible, hybrid model that was custom built for me and consists of classes that give a taste of all three of the different tracks the program offers.

The StratCom program feels like a family. Everyone in the program has been very understanding and graceful surrounding me being a student-athlete and the schedule that comes with that. I do have to be extra communicative in advance when it comes to group projects, though.

I consider myself very self-motivated and diligent. Throughout this school year, I have been very intentional about scheduling my weeks and tasks into categories like school, business and basketball — that includes not skipping out on my daily wellness practices like reading, praying, visualizing and making my bed.

On top of it all, real estate has turned from a curiosity hobby into a side-hustle business of my own.

I feel a lot of joy from putting people into homes and helping to fix up those homes.

I am currently practicing as a wholesale seller in the Inkster, Michigan area – my hometown I love so much.

When I graduate in August and basketball is over, I don’t know exactly what my life will look like, but I do know my skillset from the StatCom program and basketball has equipped me for anything.

This story was adapted from a piece on the College of Communications Arts and Sciences website.

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