When Junpai Dowdy ’21 was growing up, he was always one of the fastest kids at school. By eighth grade, he realized he had a talent on the track and after participating in summer track programs, he chose to attend NC State University and to be a part of the track and field team.
As a member of the Wolfpack Track and Field Team, Dowdy mainly runs the 400m, but every now and then, he may get thrown into the 200m, the 4x100m relay or the 4x400m relay.
And it’s the competition that he enjoys most about the sport of track and field.
“It’s different from other sports in that you put everything you have into one, short moment. It’s similar to maybe swimming. The moment is so short that you can’t afford to mess up,” he said. “What I love about the NC State track team is that everybody is very unique and I like the diversity. I like the people here. Everyone has great energy and it’s just fun all around.”
Dowdy chose NC State because of its prestige, its use of the latest technology, its proximity to his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, and because they had a good track and field team.
When he arrived on campus, Dowdy wasn’t sure what major to pursue, so he enrolled in exploratory studies with the hope of finding the best fit for him. He explored several different majors and realized he had an interest in engineering, particularly mechanical or electrical.
But he wasn’t sold on engineering as a whole. He said he wanted something more practical and hands-on with similar aspects of engineering. That’s when he found the NC State College of Education’s technology, engineering, and design education program with a minor in graphic communications.
“I love how the major touches on everything. You get a feel for what technology is and you get to go through a design process of creating and modeling something, which I think is very important in terms of knowing what you want and how to get there,” Dowdy said. “We learned so much about so many things. We did a little bit of programming, robotics, wood shop, metal welding and some metal work. I think it’s more practical engineering. It’s something you experience.”
Dowdy put his design skills to the test while taking part in an internship with the NC State University Department of Athletics, where he worked with the visual design team. He used his knowledge and expertise in Adobe products, such as Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator, to create and design graphics for various marketing pieces, including posters, brochures and emails for several athletic programs.
One of his most memorable creations was designing trading cards for the baseball team. The trading cards were to be distributed to fans at every home game.
“Doing the trading cards was pretty cool. They had the players’ height, weight and some personal questions, such as celebrity crush, favorite food and favorite little league moment,” he said. “Since I hadn’t really talked to many baseball players, I got to learn a lot about them.”
Dowdy, who graduated this past May, is currently looking for a position similar to what he was doing during his internship. With his degree in technology, engineering, and design education, Dowdy feels his degree allows him to move into several areas. He is even interested in possibly creating and designing visuals for a gaming company.
As a student-athlete and a recent alumnus of the NC State College of Education, Dowdy says he has learned many skills that he will be able to use in his career, as well as some skills he was able to transfer to the track. One of those being perseverance.
“Even though I’ve failed a lot of times, I know that I can always do better. I can always motivate myself to get to the next step and try to finish. And I always end up finishing,” he said.
Being in the College of Education also taught Dowdy how to think about things differently. When he was on the track, he said he would think about a certain technique that his coach was talking about and try to analyze it in a different way and through a different lens. He would also use the teaching skills he gained to think about how to learn a technique, but also how to teach his teammates a technique and think about the best way for them to learn it.
“I’ve been able to teach my peers, and that’s a great thing.”