Whether it’s on stage for the Great University Campaign launch event or talking with the USM Foundation in private conversation, whenever Ireonna “Rona” Scott is given an opportunity to discuss her experiences and achievements, she’s quick to give flowers to the people around her. That reflects some modesty on her part—she’s accomplished both on the softball field and in the classroom—but also speaks to who she is as a person: a consummate and magnanimous teammate who values community in creating success.
Rona played high school softball in Beverly, Massachusetts, and was recruited by several colleges. She settled on the University of Southern Maine because of its size and out of a desire to be a “bigger fish in a small pond, rather than the other way around.” The USM campus is only about 90 minutes from Beverly, but when you’re an only child of a single parent, like Rona, that kind of distance can feel much greater for both parties—particularly when you’re a first-generation college student and heading into the unknown.
Fortunately for Rona, being a part of a team eased this transition by providing her a readymade circle of friends. The athletic component has also informed her studies. “Without athletics, I wouldn’t have academics,” she said, “and without academics, I wouldn’t have athletics. This mutualistic relationship allows for both of these important aspects of my life to coexist and benefit from each other. Being a student athlete is challenging; however, USM has taught us how to manage our time and gives us the resources we need to succeed in both the classroom and on the field.”
She is currently majoring in Primary Education with a concentration in Science. She is also minoring in Coaching and Leadership Studies. The seeds for her desire for a career in education were first planted when she served as a youth coach in high school and have since grown when she recently attended the NCAA Student Immersion Program. “I was introduced to many different people who were involved with athletic administration,” she said. “After spending a weekend networking with these different groups of people that all shared a passion for athletics it made me want to be an athletic director. With a Leadership Studies minor, I will explore that side of athletics, to hopefully set myself up for grad school.”
Because she is so gracious to the friends, colleagues, and support network around her, we wanted to give her a chance to shine a spotlight wherever she wanted. “I want to thank the entire athletic department at USM,” she replied. “This group of people are very special to me. They have pushed me to places I never thought I would go and truly have inspired me to be the best athlete, student, and person I can be. Without the support of this department, I would be lost, and would have settled for the potential I thought I had. Thank you to USM athletics!”