Rutgers Business School student athlete Kate Pitzel at the Rutgers rowing team's indoor training facility.

Rowing taught her resilience, and it has helped her succeed in the classroom

Two things attracted this Georgia resident to Rutgers: The reputation of the women's rowing team and Rutgers Business School's strength in supply chain management.

When Kate Pitzel drove from her home in Georgia to visit Rutgers for the first time, she walked around the Livingston and College Avenue campuses with her mother and kept thinking, “I could imagine myself here.”

“I wanted to be able to experience a part of the country that I didn't grow up in, and get a different perspective,” said Pitzel, now a Rutgers Business School junior double-majoring in supply chain management and accounting.

The visit confirmed the research Pitzel had already done about Rutgers. She was an avid rower at Chattahoochee High School in Johns Creek, Georgia, and knew she wanted to row in college. A teammate put Rutgers on Pitzel’s radar – a new rowing coach had created momentum, and buzz.Kate Pitzel Pitzel also knew she wanted to study supply chain management. Going to high school during the Covid-19 outbreak, Pitzel became keenly interested in the supply chain problems sparked by the pandemic, especially when the Ever Given container ship became stuck in the Suez Canal in March 2021.

“It is one of my vivid memories of why I thought supply chain would be a good major,” she said. “Everybody was talking about supply chain, and I thought this seems like a great choice for the future.”

As she learned more about Rutgers, Pitzel realized everything was falling into place. “I found out that Rutgers has an amazing business school,” she said. “I knew from my research that Rutgers has one of the top supply chain management programs, so that was definitely a big draw for me.”

Adjusting to college life and a new state wasn’t easy, but Pitzel quickly saw she had a strong support system. “I was able to lean on friends I had in the business school or on the team,” she said. “All of my professors have been so great and understanding, so I never felt stressed or overwhelmed. My professors gave me everything I needed to succeed.”

One professor even gave Pitzel a second major. After taking “Financial Accounting” with Assistant Professor Sarah O’Rourke, Pitzel added accounting as a major. “It came naturally to me and suited my skills,” said Pitzel, who also sought O’Rourke’s advice about career opportunities.

“Double majoring requires a strong commitment, and Kate has demonstrated she can cope with the demands and rigorous schedule this goal requires, on top of the athletic commitments of her rowing team. She truly is outstanding.” Professor Jouan.

Pitzel had an internship in fall 2023 with the Atlanta Junior Rowing Association, tapping her supply chain knowledge to work with vendors to design and order merchandise and gear.

Pitzel lined up an auditing internship at EY in Atlanta for this summer, a chance to experience the accounting side of her double-major. She is considering audit as a career after she graduates. “It’s a glimpse into what your life would be post-college,” Pitzel said about the internship.

Through Rutgers Business School's Road to CPA program, Pitzel was paired with a Rutgers alumna, Monet Elgawly, who works at EY and is providing insight about the firm and the CPA exam. “It’s been a really helpful experience,” said Pitzel.

Natalia Jouan taught Pitzel in two classes, Managerial Accounting and Intermediate Accounting, and called her a dedicated student who participates often during class.

“She has an outstanding ability for problem-solving and robust logical thinking skills. Double majoring requires a strong commitment, and Kate has demonstrated she can cope with the demands and rigorous schedule this goal requires, on top of the athletic commitments of her rowing team. She truly is outstanding,” said Jouan.

Rowing taught Pitzel resilience, which has helped her succeed in the classroom, and beyond.

“There's a lot of times when things are really, really difficult, and you struggle and fail,” said Pitzel about rowing. “Going through those hard times, and then, finally, breaking out of them and seeing that you're improving, and it's because of the work you put in … that's the best lesson for in the classroom, and for life.

“I know that when things are hard,” she said, “like I have done so much in rowing to get through hard things, then I can do it anywhere.”

-Sharon Waters

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