Grace Victor (left), a middle distance runner, competes with teammate Natalie Ackerley at a WSU track meet.

Grace Victor traveled more than 7,000 miles to attend Washington State University. Her cross-continental trek to Pullman gave the Australian citizen the opportunity to compete in track at a collegiate level while earning a business degree.

In Australia, universities don’t have organized athletic teams, says Victor, 22, who grew up in Brisbane. Athletes who compete beyond high school have to join a club.

“There isn’t the opportunity to be a student-athlete. If you want to do sports, that’s on your own time,” says Victor, a senior majoring in management information systems. “At WSU, I’ve had this crazy opportunity to be a student, and an athlete.”

Victor is middle distance runner with a personal best in the 800 meters of 2 minutes, 10 seconds. She was recruited by several U.S. universities. The reputation of WSU’s Carson College of Business helped cinch her decision.

“WSU had the top ranked business school among the universities I was looking at,” she says.

Competing at the PAC-12 Championships

Victor competed in the PAC-12 Track and Field Championships May 11 to 12 in Tucson. After being sidelined earlier with stress fractures, she was excited to end her college running career at the championship meet.

Victor will return to Pullman for summer school, finishing the credits she needs to graduate in July. The extra classes resulted from switching majors her junior year, but Victor has no regrets.

After starting out in international business, Victor took Strategic Information Systems Leadership, an upper level MIS class, from Senior Associate Dean Debbie Compeau, the college’s Hubman Distinguished Professor of Information Systems. She quickly became hooked on big data.

“Her class related everything back to the real world – how data and analytics can be used to make businesses more efficient,” Victor says.

Victor will graduate with a double degree in MIS and economics. For her economics capstone project, she and other students projected how changes in liquor taxes affect the revenues collected by the Idaho Liquor Board.  At a certain point, higher taxes led to a drop in sales. Victor drew on concepts she learned from another MIS professor – Mauricio Featherman – for the project.

“Grace epitomizes Cougar grit,” says Featherman, clinical associate professor of management, information systems, and entrepreneurship. “She trained every day, pushing through sports injuries and even managed to have fun in two of my challenging MIS classes.”

MIS degree opens doors

In October, Victor will move to Denver to work for Fast Enterprises, a software and information consulting company. Many of its clients are government agencies. She’ll start out as an implementation consultant, using data to solve problems.

Being a student-athlete brought focus to her college years, Victor says. She spent at least two hours daily in team practice – more on weight training days – and four to five hours on class assignments.

Victor also was an executive member of WSU’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, organizing events for up to 450 people and training athletes to be proactive about their mental health.

Athletically and academically, Victor says WSU was a good fit.

“There is so much you can do with an MIS degree,” she says. “I’m exploring my options to see where this role will take me.”