Jacquelyn Reilly hustles through the packed halls of ESPN studios past reporters, directors and camera crews to get to her control room for the 3 p.m. live Sports Center.
The 2012 graduate of High Point University has spent the morning generating hundreds of graphics for the 3 to 6 p.m. segments that cover the screen and provide viewers with statistics, game recaps and information sports fanatics crave.
It’s high pressure and intense, but it’s the type of job that Reilly wanted as a graphic design major at HPU and the kind of job that HPU prepared her to tackle.
“Choosing High Point University was the best decision I’ve ever made,” says Reilly, from Radnor, Penn. “My time there showed me what I was capable of.”
Top notch faculty, facilities
Reilly chose the graphic design major due to her love of art creativity. She knew she would get invaluable industry experience at HPU when she met Professor Allan Beaver, artist in residence, who once ran his own advertising firm in New York City and worked with major artists like Andy Warhol and campaigns such as Subaru, Jockey and Matchbox Cars.
“Mr. Beaver was a tough teacher, but his intensity was balanced with friendliness,” says Reilly. “He has high standards and gave me difficult projects that pushed me and challenged me. That’s paying off now at ESPN where I’m expected to handle tough assignments every day.”
It’s also the environment at HPU that encouraged Reilly to be so successful. She admits the impressive ESPN campus can be intimidating for anyone during a job interview. But the first class facilities at HPU made her feel comfortable when speaking with her future boss and co-workers.
“When I saw ESPN headquarters – how impressive and beautiful it was – it reminded me of High Point University. I knew I wanted to be there, and I knew I could get my foot in the door if I worked hard enough.”
Leveraging lessons in perseverance, persistence
Reilly first noticed the ESPN headquarters while driving to visit an HPU friend who lived in Avon, Conn. That sparked her interest, and she began connecting with ESPN through her friends, LinkedIn, and any outlet she could think of. There was an online application, multiple in-person interviews and phone calls. It wasn’t a simple process. It took a lot of hard work and persistence, but that didn’t prevent her from pursuing her dream.
“It was a 10-month process,” she says. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done with their application process, but I kept connecting with people I had linked and networked with. Eventually, they brought me in, and on my third interview they said they recognized my persistence and determination and wanted that on their team. It all goes back to what HPU and Mr. Beaver taught me – if you want something, you have to earn it and work hard for it.”
Extraordinary education leads to extraordinary results
Her persistence and lessons learned at HPU brought her to a fulfilling career and life. Today, she creates the graphics for the world’s leading sports broadcasting network that millions of people watch every day. She works in a control room that mimics a space command center with monitors flickering and buttons that few know how to operate. It’s a huge responsibility; even the sponsorship graphics are worth millions of dollars to ESPN, and one mistake could cause the company great losses. But Reilly thrives there, and she does it with pride.
“My success at ESPN is similar to my success at High Point University in way,” she says. “This is a company with a great culture that wants to make sure it’s employees are happy so they’ll work hard and be successful. It’s the same chapter in a different book, and it’s a beautiful story. I was happy as a student at HPU, and I know I’ll be happy here for a long time.”
She still remains close with her HPU friends and sees them reaching their goals along with her, including her former HPU roommate, Megan Hennessey, who is the social media manager at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.
“One of the things I loved most about HPU is that it’s like one big family,” says Reilly. “I had small classes and knew everyone. One of my professors even brought me a cupcake on my birthday, and the class sang to me. I will always miss that, but I am happy to see those family members going on to be successful, too.”