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Passmore Mudundulu Makes It Matter

Student-Athlete Makes an Impact Through Hard Work and Everyday Communication
Passmore Mudundulu poses in a track sand pit dressed in a suit.
Marketing major and Husker athlete Passmore Mudundulu of Lincoln, Nebraska, finds the relationship-building skills he hones in the Center for Sales Excellence helps him make an impact. Already Husker Hired, he starts his career at General Mills using his sales skills after graduating this May.

A marketing major and Huskers Track and Field athlete from Lincoln, Nebraska, Passmore Mudundulu focuses on more than just academics and athletics. He also leverages his communication skills to make an impact through volunteering across the city and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

You say you're energized just talking to other people. Can you share how it may have helped you pick your major?

The path for me deciding to go into marketing and sales was not a straightforward one. I had a lot of interests in high school and my freshman year of college. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to work in a field that involved talking to people. Ever since I was younger, I have always enjoyed talking, and this was very much reflected in the calls home my mom would receive from teachers about me talking too much in class.

Freshman year of college is when I truly decided sales was the right path for me. I loved the idea of working in a field centered around building relationships and talking to a lot of new people every day. This led me to join the Center for Sales Excellence program in the College of Business, where I met a lot of great mentors and leaders.

You have a job lined up with General Mills after you graduate. What will you be doing there? Did anything at Nebraska help prepare you for post-graduation life?

In July, I will move to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to begin my sales position for General Mills. I will work closely with restaurants, hospitals and other institutions to promote and sell General Mills products. I will get the chance to work on new product rollouts and make an impact on one of the most philanthropic companies in the country.

The biggest help for me in preparing for post-grad life has been Blake Runnalls, assistant professor of marketing, from the Center for Sales Excellence, and the Nebraska Life Skills program in the Nebraska Athletic Department. Runnalls teaches a sales practicum class that is focused on teaching students how to be effective salespeople and develop their professional development skills to search for jobs. It was through his teachings on being effective on LinkedIn that ultimately led to me being offered an internship position at General Mills.

In addition, the Life Skills department plays a crucial role in building athletes with the necessary skills and habits to be proficient professionals after their sport is done. Kate Frazier, Stacey Burling and Tom Lemke were key members in the Life Skills department that prepared me for post-grad life through resume workshops, career planning meetings and networking events they hosted. With the help of the sales center and Life Skills programs, I have been able to find a job for post-grad and feel confident about life after sports.

Talk about what you do as a member of N-Volved.

N-Volved is a group centered around Husker student-athletes coming together and dialoguing across differences. Being a member of the leadership team for N-Volved is an amazing opportunity because I get to help facilitate the great conversations sparked in our meetings. Some of our meeting topics include political tensions, gun laws and cultural diversity. We like to preface each meeting by just inviting everyone to be open and honest. We stress the importance of listening to understand and not just respond when we hear something we don’t agree with.

I truly love being a part of this group because the dialoguing skills I have been able to develop in N-Volved carry over into so many other relationships in my life. I believe it is an essential skill for people to be able to discuss the beliefs they feel passionate about from a place of understanding and love, especially at a time when opinions have become polarizing. Inclusion doesn’t look like only respecting people who believe the exact same beliefs as you but rather positioning your heart with a desire of understanding and respect for those who have different beliefs than our own. This has been by far my favorite lesson I have learned in N-Volved, and I am so happy to be a leader in the group.

Why is giving back important to you and what are your favorite memories from time you spent in the community?

It is so important to give back to the community to me, because I often think about all the people who have poured into me and it is a blessing to now be able to pay it forward to others. Growing up, my family was far from rich and often was on the receiving end of the products from food banks. I had the chance to learn from so many great teachers and local leaders being a member of the F Street Rec Center and other after-school programs. I would not be where I am today without the help of others, and I want to make sure to help others the same way.

One of my favorite memories from working in the community is earlier this year when I was a volunteer for a multi-week Special Olympics minicamp for disabled elementary school students. During the camp, each athlete was assigned a young athlete they would work with for the following weeks. I worked with a kid named Glenn, who easily has been my favorite memory in college so far. It was great to work with him and build a relationship with him each week. I never really worked with special needs students before, so it was such a great opportunity to build a genuine relationship with Glenn centered around our shared love for sports!

Is there anything you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?

It is difficult to simplify what I hope to accomplish in life, but I think ultimately, I hope to leave something that lasts longer than me. One of the best things you can do in life is help another person and when all is said and done can be remembered for my impact on others rather than the titles I hold or things I buy.

What or who inspires you?

My mom has always been my source of inspiration for all that I do. My family immigrated to the United States when I was 3 years old and left everything they knew to give my siblings and me a better life in America. Our story, like most immigrant stories, is a challenging path. When I was in the third grade my mom had a difficult choice to make. My dad wanted to return to Africa and begin teaching there, but my mom wanted to stay in the United States so my four siblings and I could finish school here. To do this, she had to return to college for a student visa just to keep my family and me in this country. Many of our close friends told her she should go back to Africa with my dad, but she decided to take the hard path and raise five kids by herself while returning to school in America.

Her work ethic and sacrifice have always been a source of inspiration for me, and it has led me to truly value the education I’ve attained. My mom always emphasized the power of an education. She not only went back to school to get her associate's degree, but she also got her bachelor’s, master's and now she is finishing her doctorate this spring! I have always gotten comments about my attitude toward hard work, but I feel my ability to work hard is nothing compared to what my mom has been able to accomplish. She is the reason why I do what I do, and I am blessed to have her as a role model in my life.

What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact?

My advice to students looking to make an impact in the community: It doesn’t take a lot to change someone’s day. I think sometimes students can get into this mental trap of thinking about making an impact in their community by organizing some grand community service project, but it’s as simple as dropping off an extra item of food you have to Husker Pantry. Or as telling a stranger you like their outfit. So often we underestimate our own abilities to enact change or help others.

Stacey Burling in Nebraska Athletics once told me, “Your story matters.” For so long I felt I couldn’t inspire anyone because I didn’t compete in a very popular sport or because I felt like you must have this groundbreaking, tear-inducing story. But the reality is, everyone has gone through struggles, and everyone learns and grows through their trials and tribulations. When I came to realize this, it formed the desire to hear other people’s stories and what they have gone through to make them who they are today. That’s why I value getting more involved in the community and getting to know the people who are in my community. In short, making an impact in your community is as easy as giving a stranger a compliment.
Published: February 23, 2023