The U.S. Embassy in Paris had the perfect job for Kelsey Perlman ('12).
The embassy was looking for a French-speaking female athlete to serve as a sports diplomacy specialist — a job that required touring France to promote gender equality and the benefits of sports for professional success.
Perlman, who majored in international studies and French and served as captain of the Mean Green women's soccer team her junior and senior years, heard about the job from Laetitia Knight, lecturer in world languages, literatures and cultures at UNT.
"I'd like to say that I think this job was made for me," Perlman says.
Besides playing with various women's soccer clubs, Perlman talks to boys and girls about the benefits of Title IX, the landmark bill that made gender discrimination illegal in education and federal programs; the U.S. collegiate athletics system; and how soccer is used as a form of social integration in tough neighborhoods.
She also talks about qualities such as leadership, organization, mental toughness, assertiveness and perseverance, which she developed by playing sports. Perlman says the task can be challenging because there hasn't traditionally been strong support for women's sports in France, but she loves the job.
"Seeing girls come up to me saying they were inches away from quitting sports but would continue thanks to my speech had a tremendous impact on me," she says.
Perlman would like to play for a professional soccer team in France and continue the sports diplomacy program. She also plans to take the Foreign Service Exam, which would put her en route to becoming a diplomat.
She notes that her athletic scholarship at UNT paved the way to her job because it allowed her to take unpaid internships with the International Rescue Committee, the UNT Office of Sustainability and the North Texas in D.C. Program, and study for a semester abroad at the University of Caen in France.
"I'd never be in the position I am now," she says, "if I hadn't gone to UNT."