Equipped to Lead and Succeed

Meet Francisco Perez ‘25

Dean's Scholarship Recipient

Where are you from and what is your background?
My parents are from small towns in Durango, Mexico. They came to the United States in 1990 to pursue better opportunities. They eventually settled in Watts, a small community in South Los Angeles most recognized for the Watts Riots in 1965. My upbringing in this neighborhood significantly influenced my passion for community engagement, sports, and a desire to make a difference in people's lives. It wasn't just about living in Watts but about understanding its history, struggles, and resilience. All of this ignited my love for sports, which became more than just games to me. They served as a unifying force, a way to connect with my community and beyond.

Why did you apply for this graduate program and decide to study at USF?
Choosing a college was a balancing act for me because I wanted to grow, but also stay connected to my roots in Watts, LA. I picked UC Berkeley for undergrad, diving into Political Science and Ethnic Studies. But deep down, I always knew sports was my calling. But, I didn't know how to break in. Fast forward to senior year, I stumbled upon USF's MS in Sport Management program. It was a game-changer. I talked to some Cal Athletics alums who'd been through the program, and it clicked — this was my next move. USF offered the perfect blend of academics and real-world experience in sports. But it's about more than just landing a job in sports. I think about that kid from Watts who did not know what he wanted to do. It reminds me that someday, I will return and make a difference in my community. I see USF as the launchpad for that. It's not just a Master's degree; it's my ticket to giving back to communities like mine, showing them that higher education can be a game-changer, no matter the obstacles.

What impacts has the Dean's Scholarship had on your ability to further your studies?
The Dean's Scholarship has profoundly impacted me and my family. Upon receiving the award news, I immediately contacted my family in Los Angeles to share this milestone. This financial support has been instrumental, allowing me to concentrate fully on my academic and professional aspirations without the looming concern of financial strain. What I find particularly commendable is the institution's recognition of students' financial needs, demonstrated through the availability of various scholarship opportunities. This award has eased my economic weight and motivated me to excel in the sports management industry. The scholarship has been incredibly beneficial in covering essential academic expenses, such as tuition and textbooks. These books are not just course requirements; they are invaluable resources that will remain in my library for years. They are a lasting reminder of the knowledge and skills I've acquired in the Master's program.

What are your career ambitions?
My journey in the sports industry has been a winding road, but it's helped me zero in on what I want to do: Strategic Partnerships for a major sports team or organization. I got my start in sports medicine, working as a hydration technician. It was a foot in the door, but I quickly realized I wanted to be on the business side of things. Working in sales roles with Cal Athletics and the San Francisco Giants was a game-changer. It wasn't just about selling tickets or merchandise but about understanding the business dynamics that make a sports organization tick. What lights a fire in me is the art of strategic partnerships. It's not just a job; it's like a puzzle where every piece has to fit just right. From identifying potential partners, to negotiating terms, and finally shaking hands on a deal, each step is a thrill. This blend of teamwork, strategy, and negotiation is incredibly fulfilling. And let's not forget the impact of a good partnership — it can be a win-win for everyone involved, from the organizations to the fans. While I'd love to stick with sports, I'm not putting on blinders. The skills and experiences I've gained are transferable, and I'm genuinely curious about how partnerships work in other sectors. Whether it's tech, finance, healthcare, or law, I'm open to taking my expertise to new playing fields. My career is a continuous learning journey. Each role and each project adds a new layer to my understanding of what makes a successful partnership. And that's what I'm all about — growing, learning, and making impactful connections in whatever field I find myself in.

What is something unique or interesting about you?
One thing that sets me apart is my drive to go the extra mile for people — something I got from my parents. They never just helped out; they were all in, committed to seeing things through until the end. And that's a trait I've taken to heart. Whether it's something as simple as picking up a friend from the airport or being that listening ear when someone's going through a tough time, I don't just offer help; I dive in. This isn't just about being a good friend or family member; it's a mindset that's shaped my professional life, too. I'm always looking for ways to support my colleagues, regardless of the task. It's not just about ticking off a to-do list; it's about genuinely investing in the success of those around me. And I've found that this approach doesn't just make me a better person — it's also been crucial to my success.


The Dean’s Scholarship recognizes a select group of incoming students in graduate programs, who the admission committees believe will make a substantial contribution to the programs. Recipients are selected based on merit. To be considered for the Dean's Scholarship, students must apply to their program by the program's priority deadline.

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