As part of the Southeastern Conference's celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the conference will spotlight former student-athletes that have gone on to successful careers outside of athletics.
Gena Johnson Bumgarner graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and marketing management, where she was also a member of the women's golf team.
"The opportunity to play college golf at the University of Arkansas was one of the best experiences of my life," said Bumgarner. "It fostered strong friendships with unbreakable bonds and taught me a lot about navigating challenging situations, hard work and life. While many people see the results of an athlete's dedication, few experience the four years of behind-the-scenes "grind". From long practices to early morning workouts and academic study, the focus and energy the team put in to prepare for competition taught me key leadership skills - prioritization, the value of pre-work and the importance of creating a strong team environment - that help me differentiate myself in my professional career today."
She helped the Razorbacks to three consecutive NCAA Regional appearances and to the program's first NCAA Championship in 2005, where Arkansas finished 11th overall. Johnson was a member of the Women's Golf Coaches Association Academic All-American team and the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll.
While with the Razorbacks, she played in 27 events and was a regular in the lineup as a senior, finishing her career with a 79.12 scoring average. "Since the 1970s when Title IX came into place, it enabled women to have equal access to education which also provided a greater opportunity for females to participate in sports," explained Bumgarner. "That equity provided an opportunity for me and many other women to become more active in high school sports with the ambition to play golf collegiately. Without the focus on equity, this opportunity may not have been an option for me." A member of the Tyson Foods team for 15+ years, she grew from a marketing analyst to her current position as Vice President.
"College athletics made a significant impact on my life, both personally and professionally," said Bumgarner. "No matter what you do in life, the power of positivity, focus on development, and winning as a team continue to prove success. Throughout my career, it's clear that those who are energy makers embrace the power of positivity. It's Infectious and drives a larger group to a goal. The focus on developing yourself and others enables each of us to remain curious, receive feedback, and work on those areas of opportunity that will get us 1% better every day. There is no better feeling than winning as a team! Creating an environment where you have each other's backs, work to make each other better, and move toward a goal together is key to working across an organization the size of Tyson. These skills were developed during my time as a student athlete at the University of Arkansas."