When her whole family relocated to Las Vegas in 2003, Kim Marano, a freshman at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, transferred too. She soon landed a position as an unpaid intern in the office of compliance for UNLV Athletics. As she worked on her degrees — ’16 BA Communication Studies and ’18 M.Ed. — she advanced her career from unpaid student worker to paid student worker to graduate assistant to assistant director for NCAA compliance. Now as the Academic Success Center’s academic eligibility specialist, she guides student-athletes from their first day on campus all the way through graduation day.
Inspiration to get into your field
It all starts with my love of athletics in general. When I was in high school, I was the manager of the basketball team and the baseball team, and I have always loved being behind the scenes. During my time with the office of compliance, I helped with study hall monitoring and tutoring, which sparked the move to work with academics and student-athlete academic services. I really wanted to work more closely with students and see them progress.
A utility player
Academic eligibility specialist is a position fairly unique to UNLV. Not only do I have the academic advisor role of planning out schedules, picking classes, and making sure our students are meeting degree requirements, but I am also involved with these student-athletes from their sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school up until they graduate. We are really utility players and we are a central location for these student-athletes to get what they need.
Best tip for student-athletes
The classroom and the sports field are not that different. The way you act in one will kind of mirror how you act in the other, so remember to always ask questions and be coachable. If you are not hitting your best times in the pool or if you are not understanding the material, you need to ask you coach or professor for help. You need to take their advice, be coachable, and be attentive.
Something people would be surprised to learn about you
I am the first person in my family to go to college, and now I am helping my little brother get through it. Since I was a first-generation college student, it helps me to connect to students who are first-generation as well.
What you thought you’d do when you grew up
I thought I was going to go into forensics. I was taking classes (at Slippery Rock) and working for the basketball team at the same time. So, when my advisor told me I would have to quit all my extracurricular activities to focus on my pre-med classes, I realized I love sports and I do not want to give that up. I ended up changing my major to sports management and never looked back.
Advice you would give your younger self
Don’t take your failures to heart and don’t let your successes go to your head. Also, don’t take the small things too seriously.
Where you would be if not at UNLV
I might have shifted my sports opportunities to the professional sphere. I would be interested in player development in something like the (Women’s National Basketball Association) or a women's soccer team. I could also see myself working with international students at another institution.
You just won Megabucks and want to give back to the university. What you would support and why?
I would like to contribute to more international programming. My mom is British, and my aunt and uncle work as international attorneys.
Ideal summer vacation
Somewhere on an island where I can do nothing. Bora Bora is my top one. I really want to visit French Polynesia.
Aliens: Real or Fake?
Real! There's too much out there (for us) to be the only people around — even if they are just tiny organisms.
A guilty pleasure
I love baking shows. I've binged watched every season of The Great British Bake-Off and constantly search for new shows similar to it.
What is the best three-month stretch of the year?
That would have to be March to May. The weather is beautiful, I have a number of family birthdays, and, most importantly, it’s hockey playoff season.