Elana Meyers Taylor touts ACE Program’s education resources for Team USA athletes
by Devin Lowe
Elana Meyers Taylor (right) earned her third Olympic medal at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 with brakewoman Lauren Gibbs (left). She received her fourth academic degree in May when she was awarded an honorary doctorate from George Washington University, her alma mater.
When it comes to career goals, bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor isn’t stopping at three Olympic medals. For years, she’s had a different end game on her mind: becoming the CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
To boost her credentials, Meyers Taylor has collected the same amount of degrees as Olympic medals. She owns a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from George Washington University, where she played softball as an undergrad, and a master’s degree in sports management.
And with help from the Athlete Career and Education (ACE) Program, she recently finished her Master of Business Administration degree through the Keller Graduate School of Management program at DeVry University.
“I know a lot of athletes don’t necessarily have the kind of background that it would take to be CEO. They don’t have that high-level business understanding,” Meyers Taylor said. “So I figured I might as well try to get it, if that was my goal. That’s what I’ve worked my entire career to do and the MBA helps that effort.”
Meyers Taylor has an acute understanding of how important getting an education can be for an athlete. Her father was a professional athlete whose career was cut short by an injury.
“He always told me that you need to be prepared, because you never know when the end is coming,” Meyers Taylor said. “The best way to do that is to be sure you have an education first, especially if you’re not able to get job experience [while competing].”
To that end, Meyers Taylor has taken advantage of numerous donor-funded ACE resources, including tuition grants for her master’s program at George Washington. She also earned her MBA free of charge thanks to ACE’s offerings through DeVry.
The most important piece of the ACE Program, she says, is the ACE Mentor Network, which connects Olympians, Paralympians and hopefuls with other athletes and industry professionals for one-on-one career coaching, networking sessions and more.
Through the network, she’s found flexible job opportunities that allow her to work remotely, an indispensable characteristic for any job that a professional athlete — especially one who travels the world as much as Meyers Taylor — is able to fill.
Because of ACE, Meyers Taylor says, her resume is seamless — and it brings her one step closer to securing her dream job.
“I’ve taken advantage of a lot of opportunities through ACE, not just the education, but the job opportunities, as well,” Meyers Taylor said. “I like to work, too … I like that [ACE has] given me the ability to add on to my resume. I don’t have huge gaps on my resume because I’ve been able to have remote jobs in my career, which is pretty cool.”
Meyers Taylor has taken her passion for education beyond advocating for ACE among her fellow athletes. When she works with children and teens in the community, she makes sure to instill in them the importance of higher education and share how it’s set her up for success after her athletic career.
“That’s what I try to tell all the kids that I work with. I don’t really give them the option,” Meyers Taylor said. “I tell them when they’re going to college and when they receive their bachelor’s, and try to put that seed in their heads pretty early.”
While she trains for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and her shot at a fourth Olympic medal, she’ll continue to build her case for becoming the USOC’s CEO someday. She added a fourth degree in May, receiving an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, and in July, she was elected president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, a standout role on any future CEO’s resume.
Even though she still has her eye on that elusive gold medal, she feels secure in the education she’s received with the help of ACE — and the donors who support the program.
“We spend our lives dedicated to one particular pursuit: winning a gold medal,” Meyers Taylor said. “You’re doing that for your country, you’re doing that for your family, but largely, you’re also doing that for yourself. You have to also make sure that you’re looking out for yourself long-term, and that’s what an education provides.
“People can take away a gold medal. People can take away your accomplishments. You never know what happens. You get disqualified from a race or whatever — that can all go away, and fame fades. But an education is something that will last a lifetime, and that’s why it’s so important to have one.”