Adrian Sledge ‘02 on her Journey From Student Athlete to Educational Leader

4 mins read

This is the 60th article in Bears Doing Big Things, a weekly column celebrating the stories of notable M-A alumni.

Adrian Sledge ‘02 went from being a student-athlete to a staff member, earning many accolades for basketball and track and landing herself as a Pride Hall athlete. Now, she works as a Data Information Specialist in the guidance office. 

Sledge at her Pride Hall ceremony

As a freshman, Sledge had never played basketball or track before. After playing on the girls junior varsity basketball team for one year, she was moved up to varsity. During her time at M-A, she won Most Valuable Player, the Gatorade Athlete Will to Win Award, and had the most rebounds all four years. She explained, “You had a team with people holding you accountable for your grades and being present at practice. Basketball gave me that small family and people going to college and doing their homework, showing me what success looks like. It was the first time I had friends from a different neighborhood than me, and I felt so accepted and knew that they had my back.”

During her freshman basketball season, the track coach noticed her speed and asked her to join the track team. She said, “When I ran track, it was a natural talent, and I became captain my freshman year. Our team won the PAL my freshman, sophomore, and junior years, and I won in the 100 meters, 200 meters, 4×4, and 4×100 relays.” 

“I loved running the relays,” she said. “I would run faster in the relays than in my individual time. My coaches told me that I had a love for the team, so when I was the last runner with the baton and knew I had the team on my back, I wanted to hold the team together. They used to call me the silent leader and would say, ‘You don’t always speak up but you always do the right thing. Don’t listen to Adrian but follow her.’”

On her experience at M-A, she said, “It was amazing to grow up and meet all different kinds of people from different walks of life because it makes me feel more comfortable in my own skin. I probably wouldn’t feel that way if I didn’t grow up around here because everything is so different. I can adapt easily to things versus looking at myself like an outsider.”

After graduating from M-A, she went on to Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria and continued her basketball career. There, she earned defensive player of the year, made the most rebounds, and had the most blocked shots. 

While her college career was still in play, she got an offer to try out for the LA Sparks women’s basketball team. The coach told her, “I don’t need you for anything, I just need you for your on-ball defense and speed.” But, she injured her shoulder for the second time in college. She explained, “The doctors took one look at it and told me I could never play basketball at that level anymore. I didn’t want to sit on the bench and watch something that I had dreamed about, so I declined their offer.”

Sledge then went on to California State Hayward with the goal of being a teacher. She majored in English and was focused on working with students. She said, “I was so inspired by the teachers that were at M-A who gave their heart and soul to make their students better, no matter where they came from.”

During her time at Hayward, she started working at M-A in the Compass program which was led by Jenna Carson, which helped incoming 9th graders navigate high school.

In 2008, she was hired at M-A in the Academic Resource Department as a Senior Instructional Associate and later became the Department assistant. For her job, she explained, “I was working in the social academic program for students with autism, but a lot of them were in higher functioning classes. It was mostly to help them with social cues and how their behaviors affect them and everyone around them.”

She also helped the case managers keep all of the IEPs and 504s in order, making sure that all students had their accommodations in place in the system.

Sledge pursued her love for makeup and fashion by getting her cosmetology license in 2011. She explained, “I learned to make people understand that beauty is inner, but also using makeup as a tool to enhance your features because beauty is already there—makeup itself doesn’t do that. I worked at a salon and started doing hair, nails, and makeup, and giving students pointers towards attending cosmetology school.”

Sledge working with the M-A dance team

In 2022, the Data Information Specialist role opened in the guidance office. She saw the impact of her work was extremely helpful for students, and saw that her work was the backend of what happens in the guidance office. She said, “I wanted to take on more of a leadership role of doing the data. This position allowed me to grow in other areas, and being able to work closely with our amazing school counselors was definitely a win. Watching the entire team show up daily to support our M-A students with the fire they bring daily made me want to be a part of this department.” 

Sledge’s advice for M-A students: “Really enjoy the moment, get to know people from different walks of life, and take an interest in things that they do. When you step into a zone where someone does not come from the same place as you, you talk about things that are extremely different and challenge yourself in so many ways. You’re pushing yourself through another lens, so why not practice those communication skills in one of the most diverse places. So when you’re an adult, you feel comfortable talking to anyone.”

Sledge’s advice for students interested in an education career: “If you want to work with people, you have to learn how people work. Sometimes you have to lead with love, sometimes you have to lead with listening. You have to have just a solid love for people, it can really go a long way and you can really impact every person you come across.”

Tessa is a junior in her second year of journalism. She enjoys co-writing for the Bears Doing Big Things column and the social trends happening at M-A. Tessa also enjoys playing tennis and is on the varsity team.

Latest from Blog