Trina Pratt has spent the past six years juggling life as a student, researcher, teacher, volunteer, mentor, and single mother.
Next week, when she walks across the graduation stage as Dr. Trina Pratt, the ups and downs of her journey will have been well worth it.
Pratt had built a successful career in recreation, youth development, and community relations. She had a stint working for the NBA, and spent many years in director positions for the Boys & Girls Club, the nonprofit that she “grew up in” as a young girl.
But when she had her son, Che’, in 2010, and then became a single mother, she wanted more for her family. UNC Greensboro’s doctoral program in kinesiology offered the flexibility she needed to raise her son, and would open more doors for her down the road.
“I started the program when Che’ was just three years old,” she said. “My motivation was my son and my family.”
The program’s specialization in community youth sport development was the perfect fit given Pratt’s professional experience and academic interests.
Pratt’s research explores Project Effort, a program led by UNCG’s Dr. Tom Martinek that helps foster personal and social responsibility among underserved youth in the Greensboro area. Over the years, Project Effort has expanded to include Youth Leader Corps (YLC), a leadership program that provides high school students the opportunity to plan and teach Project Effort’s values-based sport activities to youth.
Pratt’s work focuses specifically on YLC students. She’s interested in how the values that former YLC leaders taught have impacted their lives as young adults, specifically with regard to issues of race, culture, and identity.
As part of her research, Pratt spent many afternoons and evenings assisting with the program and mentoring youth. Her research, service, teaching, and coursework – not to mention taking care of her son and helping him with his schoolwork – meant that every minute of every day was planned and scheduled.
“Trina’s ability to persevere and make things work were her greatest allies,” said Martinek. “Resourcefulness and having a positive approach during her PhD studies were always present. She never wavered from keeping her eyes on the prize.”
For Pratt, it’s all been worth it, because it’s always been about more than herself.
“I look at my family, my grandparents, and what they were not able to do because of race relations back then. I’m breaking a lot of barriers. I’m just so proud to represent my family in this way.”
What’s next? Hopefully an academic position that will allow Pratt to further her research and continue teaching, all while focusing on her son and his growth.
“I’m a package deal. It’s not just me,” she said. “I can’t talk about youth development and not talk about my son. I’m looking for a place that can invest in both of us.”
Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications
Videography by Grant Evan Gilliard, University Communications