May 10, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. - Every student-athlete on campus walks a different path to the ultimate destination of graduation. For women's basketball player Kim Durham, her journey through the brick-paved walkways of NC State has undoubtably been a unique one.
Durham, who will take part in the annual Commencement Ceremony this Saturday, will receive two diplomas as a double major in film studies and business administration.
"Its really exciting to think that I was able to complete all that work in four years," said Durham. "Hopefully I can use both my majors in the future when I move on."
But that tells just a small part of her collegiate tour the last four years in Raleigh.
From the nearby town of Apex, Durham was a better than average basketball player at Apex High School with opportunities to play at the next level.
But Durham made the decision as a senior to give up the idea of being a student-athlete and focus solely on academics. Accepted to follow in her mother's footsteps and attend the University of Florida, she ultimately made the decision to stay close to home and become part of the Wolfpack family.
"It's really cool now that I will always be a part of NC State, because we have a great alumni base, and I believe we have up-and-coming teams that will be exciting to root for as an alumnus," added Durham.
As her first college semester played out she realized just how much she missed playing basketball.
"I had never been without it," explained Durham. "I was trying to be a regular student."
Like many situations in life, when opportunity knocks, answer the door. Durham went ahead and nearly swung it off its hinges.
She was asked by the Wolfpack women's coaching staff to try out for the team in the fall of 2008 after injuries and transfers had depleted roster depth for the pending season.
Seven players began the first round of tryouts. Durham and two others were asked back, and eventually her and Kristy Kenney became full-time members of the NC State women's basketball program.
"I thought I was done with basketball, but there was no way I was going to pass up that opportunity to play for Coach Yow," Durham said. I'm proud of myself for sticking it out all four years, because I didn't have a scholarship for the first two years.
"I'm also proud that I was able to keep my grades up and still compete."
Durham eventually earned a scholarship leading into her junior season, and wound up being a key role player for the Wolfpack each of the last four seasons.
Her busy schedule as a student-athlete hasn't kept her from keeping her grades at a near perfect level. The double major was accepted into the university's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa this past November - one of the highest honors that a student can earn at NC State.
And wouldn't you know it she missed the ceremony because she was traveling with the basketball team that weekend for a game against TCU in Fort Worth, Texas.
"I know everyone says these things when they leave college, but I've learned some really key life lessons as a student-athlete like time management, self discipline and team work - all things that I can take with me into the future - but probably determination is the one single thing that I will take away from my experience in college," said Durham.
This Saturday, Durham will be included among a record number of NC State student-athletes receiving diplomas during the spring commencement that will take place at PNC Arena at 9 a.m. Giving the speech this weekend will be former Wolfpack standout Phillip Rivers, the current starting quarterback for the NFL's San Diego Chargers.
And remember that notion about the University of Florida. Well Durham, albeit four years later, will attend graduate school to study entrepreneurship. She hopes to learn the process of starting a business, and just maybe tie in all her degrees and start up a video production team.
But before that next path opens up, she will close out her time at NC State for now with fond memories as a successful student-athlete.
"I certainly won't forget my time spent at NC State anytime soon and have made some life-long friends along the way."