From WP to the US Open: May 2024 Graduate Lands Dream Internship

A newly graduated William Paterson Pioneer is currently experiencing the internship of his dreams.

Cristian Tavarez ’24, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in sport management, was one of 24 college students selected from across the nation for this year’s United States Golf Association (USGA) Pathways internship, which has brought him to the U.S. Open Golf Championship.

Raised in Puerto Rico, Tavarez moved to Georgia as a child and struggled to make friends as an English language learner. “With sports, I was able to find a place where I felt safe and could make friends and started becoming more social with other kids. I became passionate about sports from that point on,” he told the USGA in a recent interview.

Tavarez tried playing golf for the first time just a few years ago; he never got to experience it growing up, he says. Though he struggled his first time on the green, Tavarez was hooked on the game and began researching companies “that were dedicated to breaking down barriers and exposing the game to kids,” he explains. That research eventually led him to information about the USGA’s Pathways internship program, which aims to expose undergraduate or graduate students from diverse backgrounds to the business of golf with first-hand experience.

The curriculum for the Pathways program includes a series of classroom-style instructional sessions paired with job shadowing and on-site training that covers all aspects of the U.S. Open, as well as networking opportunities with local and national leaders from the golf industry and beyond.

“I’ve never been to a major golf event, so going to the U.S. Open is going to be an unbelievable experience,” Tavarez says. “I’m most looking forward to the connections that I can potentially make—getting my name out there and telling my story and being able to hear and appreciate other people’s stories. I also want to gain a better understanding of what it takes to run a championship and the different departments behind the scenes that make it happen.”

Tavarez hopes to work with a professional sports organization after his internship, in operations or administration.

He thanks WP sport management professor and program director John Bae “for his support throughout my college journey,” including his “mentorship and belief in my abilities.”