In the beginning of April, our very own Jenny Rasch had the opportunity to sit down with Milton Hall, a senior in Sociology with a minor in Economics, and a running back for the NC State varsity football team. They discussed his personal history, his academic career, and his plans for the future.
Tell me a little bit about where you’re from.
My name is Milton Hall. I graduated from Walter Williams High School in Burlington, North Carolina. It’s about an hour from the Raleigh area.
What made you pick NC State?
I was actually juggling State, Carolina and VCU. I did the early admissions to NC State and as soon as I heard, I didn’t even look at the invitation letters from the other schools.
What made you decide to be a sociology major?
I’ve always had an interest in social life but didn’t know exactly why. Then I realized that I had a little knack for identifying patterns. That’s why I decided to pick up economics as my minor. Sociology looks at patterns of people in society, and economics looks at patterns of people in the market environment. They’re kind of brother and sister disciplines.
What do you intend to do with your degree?
Hopefully, I’ll go to business school and get my MBA in organizational development, or somewhere in that area. I’m still ironing out those details right now but I definitely plan to go to business school.
How did your NCAA experience contribute to your academic career and your future career goals?
I thought I had a strong work ethic before coming to school. My freshman year I didn’t do as well as I could have, but the risk of losing the privilege of playing sports made me lock in and focus on my academics. It also got me interested in some of the different organizational things that I did. If nothing else, it put that fire in me to work, work, work.
How athletic were you in high school?
I played football in high school and I actually thought I was going to run track somewhere for college but I broke both ankles in my senior year of high school. I broke my right ankle during the second game of my senior season. I missed my entire senior season of football. I was playing basketball in February, just after I was medically cleared to participate in track, which is my best sport, for the upcoming spring and that’s when I broke my left ankle. I was on crutches for most of my senior year. I was on crutches for my prom, but not in my prom pictures. [Laughter] When I got to State, one of my coaches from high school encouraged me to walk on even though I didn’t get recruited. After my sophomore year, I was able to earn an athletic scholarship.
So, it wasn’t your plan to play college football when you started as a freshman?
Not initially. I was really discouraged and mad at myself. I didn’t really want to play. I was out of shape. I was underweight. I knew I had probably lost a step or two, in football speak, but I stuck with it and it turned out for the best.
For someone who wants to go to business school, playing football seems like an awful lot of work and risk. What made you want to play while you were here?
It was the love of the sport, and it also had a lot to do with me not being able to finish out my senior year of high school. No athlete ever thinks that their time has come with a sport. If your playing season has to get cut short due to an injury, you want to make up that lost time. You can never really make those high school memories back because college is a whole different level of demand, but it’s definitely a love for it that brings you back. And some of it isn’t love for it because love doesn’t wake you up at 4:30-5 o’clock in the morning. It is a commitment, more than anything.
As a student athlete did you feel integrated into the student body or did you feel separated?
My situation is peculiar because the first semester of my freshman year, I wasn’t medically cleared to play. I was more of a student than an athlete. I couldn’t participate in the team events. So, my initial wave of friends were not athletes. I really didn’t start bonding with my teammates until the spring of my freshman year. I kind of benefited from the best of both worlds. I found interests outside of football and then football became a part of my schedule. I was able to secure a bunch of friends and relationships with people outside of football before football started tugging away at the majority of my time.
Are you part of any other organizations on campus?
I’m a member of The Collegiate 100, Men of America. That’s a mentoring organization that was initially structured toward minorities but a couple of the gentlemen who have presided over the on-campus organization over the past two years have been moving it towards an all-inclusive organization. I used to be the president of the Taylor Sociology Club for a year but I stepped down from that position when I decided to start the founding chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success here on State’s campus. It took a lot of groundwork to get it started but I’ve been doing that for the past two and a half years. I’ll be leaving that in someone else’s hands when I graduate.
Tell us a little bit more about that organization.
It’s essentially about building better leaders who create a better world. I wanted to get involved with it because it’s a very hands-on position. It’s not one of those organizational commitments where I get a group of students to come in and they hear me rant about something for an hour and then they go home and there’s no participation until we meet the following month. I got to recruit my own executive board. I plan all of my own events. Any outside organizations or personnel that we bring in, I’m the spearhead or scapegoat for everything that we do. There was a steep learning curve for a lot of what we’ve done.
We teach people a very methodical approach to the goal orientation process. It’s one thing to say, “I want a 4.0 this semester.” It’s a whole different ballgame when you draw the blueprint to getting that 4.0. We teach people how to design study schedules, organize study groups, whatever they need. And it’s not just academic. We have people pursuing professional and personal goals. For those interested in graduate school, we’ll figure out when the deadlines are and will help you structure your semester around taking care of these things for your graduate school admissions deadlines. Whatever you can think of abstractly as a goal, we try to put it into action steps.
Do you have any advice for students who are balancing academics with really time-consuming activities, like football or a full-time job?
The first thing you have to do is decide if you’re going to be both feet in or both feet out. You can’t be on the fence. Whenever you’re trying to decide whether you’re going to pursue one thing or the other, you definitely have to decide if that thing is what you want to do or not. Chances are you really don’t want to do it if you have to think about it for too long. Once you know for sure that you want to do it, everything becomes really clear. Most people only have a hard time managing their time because they are really unsure about what they want to do. I know that initially with football I realized how much of an impact it was having on my social life. At times when I could go out or was invited out, I was so tired that I just preferred not to go out or hang out with friends. When I stopped dreading how tired football would make me, I realized that I wasn’t really that tired and I did have time to start an organization on campus.
In addition, I became a planner. That’s probably been the biggest help, from a physical standpoint, writing down everything. I have my academics in one agenda. I have another for my event participation. Then I have a third large one with both of those things combined. I write down everything, and that has helped me out tremendously these past four years.
We’d like to thank Milton for his time and generosity, and wish him all of the best in his future endeavors!
This interview is part of a series of interviews on outstanding students in the department, the first of which featured Sarah Strozeski, winner of the Gary D. Hill Scholarship.
Until next time,