Former Penn women’s basketball star center Sydney Stipanovich was a presence on the court in her four years playing for the Quakers. The St. Louis, Mo. native was an Ivy League Player of the year, three-time Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, the career Ivy League leader in blocked shots ... the list goes on and on. Now, she’s forging a path off the basketball court.
A little over a year after her graduation from Penn in 2017, Stipanovich lives in Chelsea, on the West Side of Manhattan in New York City. Living with her are three other Penn graduates in 2018 College graduate Lauren Whitlatch, 2018 College graduate Aimee Stephenson, and 2018 Wharton graduate Christine Park. Whitlatch was Stipanovich’s basketball teammate for three years, while Stephenson played volleyball for the Quakers.
Stipanovich has a position at Fox Entertainment, where she manages the deals with clients who advertise on the Fox television networks, which include FX, FXX, FX Movie Channel, National Geographic, and Nat Geo Wild.
“I love it; the people there are awesome, and it’s definitely a team environment,” Stipanovich said. “It’s been great so far, learning new things every day, very fast-paced work environment …. It’s a very social job, too, so we do a lot of outings and client events.”
Stipanovich began living and working in New York after spending five months selling real estate for Sotheby’s in Philadelphia. She quickly realized that real estate is not where her passion lies and began searching for other opportunities.
She was aided in her search by a program that Penn basketball has, in which a panel of basketball alumni talks with and gets to know the incoming freshman class every year. These alumni guide the student athletes in finding job opportunities both during and after their Penn careers.
One of the alumni who Stipanovich has kept in touch with is 1987 College graduate Bruce Lefkowitz, a former Penn men’s basketball player who is now the Executive Vice President at Fox Networks.
“[Bruce] had suggested that [I] maybe look in a different direction, maybe see if [I] like advertising,” Stipanovich said. “So I connected with him ... and came up [to New York] and loved it ... It just shows how strong the Penn networking and connections are, and I still stay in touch with a lot of the other alums, just to see what they’re up to, and they always have great advice.”
Stipanovich isn’t the only Penn basketball alumna who is working for Fox Entertainment in New York. A couple of her former teammates, 2018 College graduate Michelle Nwokedi and 2012 College graduate Jess Knapp also work for the company.
As for the current Penn players and coaches, Stipanovich stays in touch with them, too.
“When games come around, I watch every single one,” Stipanovich said. “And, I try to make it back to [Philadelphia]. I got back to a good amount [of games] last year because I was in Philly for part of the year, so I still talk to them all the time.”
Stipanovich, who majored in communication, says that her time at Penn, both in the classroom and the gym, prepared her for the working world.
“I use so much of what I learn, especially [from] my comm classes,” Stipanovich said. “It actually is so useful in the industry I’m in, because I learned so much then, and then it just comes right back to [me] .... Penn prepared me, especially with the time commitment of basketball and school .... I look back at those experiences and [say], ‘If I can get up at 5:30 AM to go do sprints and lifts for an hour and a half, I definitely can get in to work and be in the office at my desk.'"
While she has only been with the company for less than a year, Stipanovich already feels comfortable with Fox as a long-term career possibility.
“The cool thing about Fox is that [for] everyone on my team, that was their first job right out of college,” Stipanovich said. “You just keep moving up with the same team ... so I definitely think that I would like to do that. It’s the type of job where the harder you work, the better you’ll be and the more you can just keep moving up .... I could definitely see myself staying in this industry long-term.”
No matter what she ends up doing or where she goes, Stipanovich will always have a special connection to Penn and Philadelphia, a connection that cannot be broken by time or distance.
“I love going back to Philly ... I feel like it’s a second home.”
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