Natalie Richards, multi-sport athlete and deans list student
During her time at Central Penn, Natalie Richards was a familiar presence. She played multiple sports for the college, served as an RA, assisted with events and participated in numerous activities. When it came to getting the most out of her college experience, she was all in.
At this year’s commencement, Richards received the Athlete and Activities Award. A resident of Camp Hill, she grew up in Lancaster and graduated from Hempfield High School.
We recently caught up with Richards via email to learn more about her time at the college and her plans going forward…
What interested you in attending Central Penn?
Natalie Richards: I was recruited to play basketball for Coach Kasey Hicks, and I had heard Central Penn had a great health science program.
What led you to becoming an IT major?
Natalie Richards: Technology always came natural to me, so after my first term at Central Penn, I switched from the PTA program to Information Technology. The professors at Central Penn who made a big impact on my college experience were Instructor Joe Oberto, Adjunct Instructor Curtis Scotto, and Dr. Harve Tannenbaum.
Another person who made a big impact was Professor Jared Rife. When I was making the switch from PTA to IT, he always made sure I was doing okay and checked up to see if I needed help with anything. Even though Oberto, Scotto and Rife weren’t my advisors every term, they helped me schedule my classes, so I would be able to graduate on time.
Can you talk about your experience as a residential student?
Natalie Richards: After I lived on campus for two terms, I became a residence assistant (RA). It was a great experience, because I made a lot of new friends and great memories. The girls in my house were like a second family to me. I felt like Natalie, Erika, Melissa and Cindy could come to me whenever they needed help… or just for someone to talk to. When there were events on campus, we would all go together. I can definitely say I had the true college experience. Adrienne Thoman, our director of student engagement, always had something fun planned on campus.
You played multiple sports. Can you describe that experience?
Natalie Richards: During my first fall term, I played for the women’s volleyball team, which was active at the time. I never played for an actual volleyball team, but hey I took a chance and tried out for the team. It was really fun and I learned that I was actually pretty good. I became the setter.
During winter term, I played basketball and the coaching staff was great. In high school, I didn’t have such a fun experience, so I lost my love for the game. That is, until I met Kasey and [Assistant Coach] Michelle Stine, they showed me what I was missing and my love for the game returned.
During the spring term, I joined the soccer team. I was nervous to play. I hadn’t played since my junior year in high school. I’m glad I joined because I had a great time playing and the memories made will last forever.
As a freshman, I was nominated to be captain of the soccer team, but turned it down because I had a lot on my plate… I wasn’t used to balancing college classes, work and sports yet. Luckily, I was voted captain my sophomore and junior years. I was sad I missed playing my senior year due to being pregnant with my son.
Fortunately, I was cleared to play at the Senior Night game for basketball. With having a six-week-old son and not running for a while, I was impressed with myself for being able to play a full game. Before the game started, my boyfriend Rafeeq Bush––who is an alumnus and a former Central Penn basketball player––proposed to me on the court in front of the hometown crowd. That was quite a thrill!
What are some of your favorite memories?
Natalie Richards: I made a lot of great memories at Central Penn. My house and the house next to us had a water gun fight. When I was in Student Ambassadors club, we hosted a block party. There was dodge ball, basketball, volleyball, water balloon toss, cornhole, etc. We also grilled hot dogs and hamburgers. We did tie-dye a lot at Central Penn.
Another favorite memory was Cram Jam. That’s an event Adrienne Thoman hosts around finals week. There are fun games, crafts, Zumba and a movie at the theatre. Also, there’s plenty of food––snacks, Chinese food, tacos or pizza, and then breakfast is served in the morning. The event usually starts around 7 p.m. and goes on until 6 a.m.
What is your career goal?
NR: Currently, I am a part-time intern in the IT department for Dauphin County. I hope to find a full-time IT job that I love while still being able to have time to raise my son.