2020 Best & Brightest: Davonté Higginbottom, Massachusetts-Amherst (Isenberg)

Davonté Higginbottom

Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

“Never will forget where I came from, but know my dreams are bigger than my environment.”

Fun fact about yourself: I broke my high school’s record for the triple jump event in my lone season of spring track.

Hometown: Mattapan, MA

High School: Westwood High School

Major: Sport Management and Operations Information Management Double Major

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: Sport Law

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: (Include school awards and honors)

  • UMass Men’s Basketball, Walk-on
  • UMass Men’s Basketball, Head Manager
  • Isenberg Ambassador
  • Mark H McCormack Career Fair, Co-Chair
  • Advancement of Diversity in Business, Sport Management Chair
  • William F. Field Alumni Scholar
  • Tokio Marine HCC Scholarship Recipient
  • Erik K.M. Kjeldsen Scholarship Recipient
  • TopSenior Nominee 2020, McCormack Department of Sport Management

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • ISlide USA – Boston, MA – Social Media Marketing Intern
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers – Boston, MA – Start Intern
  • National Basketball Association – Manhattan, New York – Team HR Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? I am currently still applying and looking for the right opportunity.

Who is your favorite professor? It is hard to choose just one professor because there are many who have played a role in my success. However, I would choose Dr. Nefertiti Walker who is also interim Associate Chancellor for Diversity. From the day I met her my freshman year, she took me under her wing, mentored me, and put me in a position to succeed outside the classroom. I confided in her my goal of wanting to work for the NBA headquarters and she immediately connected me alum Melcolm Ruffin, who at the time worked there. He then became another mentor and I worked with him the next two years to achieve my goal of earning that internship.

She has always been there when I am unsure of what my next career steps would be or to give me the confidence needed to pursue opportunities. As a freshman, she believed in me enough to bring me to the Isenberg Leadership Awards. Easily the youngest in the room, I was able to network with upperclassmen, professors, and established professionals. Even though I was never able to take a class she taught, she has always put me in a position to succeed and I am forever grateful to her.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? I enjoy being around hard-working individuals with similar mindsets, goals, and a desire to be great every day. Being in that environment makes me want to raise my level and push myself to be better all the time. I also appreciate the fact that I was able to create an authentic relationship with faculty and they have always looked out for my best interest.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? My advice would be that it is OK to not know what you exactly want to do early on. I came to UMass focused on finding my passion and dream career path right away, but it doesn’t always work that way. Be open to all opportunities as there is something to learn from all experiences. Get different types of experiences and start early to figure out what you don’t like.

The type of work that I did in my first two internships was different from my last internship, but I still ended up achieving my goal of working at the NBA Headquarters. Everything takes time, I came in a Sport Management major only and was denied from the BBA track after my freshman year. When accepted sophomore year, I double majored and did an internship within accounting before I settled with OIM to go along with Sports Management.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? The most surprising part about majoring in business is the numerous avenues to get to your goals. I used to think that there was one specific path you could not deviate from, but a career path is almost never linear. There are so many great opportunities that present themselves and you have to decipher which of them may be best for you.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? The achievement that I am most proud of is walking on to the Men’s basketball team at the beginning of this school year. I came to UMass fully prepared to never play organized basketball ever again. As soon as I got to campus my freshman year, I reached out to every single UMass Basketball email address I could find. I worked my way up from student manager to head manager in my first three years. It is a thankless and unglamorous job, but it’s what I wanted to do because I love the game. My sophomore year, I even tried out for the team, but was unsuccessful in my attempt and continued to do my job as a manager to the best of my ability. Finally, during my senior year I was surprisingly presented with the opportunity to walk-on to the team because of my commitment to serving the program in whatever role was needed.

At the end of a preseason workout, the team circled around coach as usual and I was off to the side, unknowingly fulfilling my last duties as a head manager. He brought me into the circle and asked me if I have “any game” as he always does and when I said “I believe I do coach” he introduced me as the team’s newest walk-on. I have scored a three-point basket in an official game, in front of my family and friends. One day, I can one day tell my kids my name is in the NCAA record books forever.

Which classmate do you most admire? A classmate I admire is Abdul Shah. Abdul and I worked together during my Start Internship with PwC and we’ve developed a close relationship ever since. I admire Abdul for knowing his goals and not settling for less because I can relate to him. I left PwC after that summer with a returning offer to an internship in hand, but I decided to not settle and pursue my goal of reaching the NBA.

During my time at PwC, Abdul and I had always talked about his interest in consulting, but he had a full-time offer in a different department. It would have been easy to accept, but he declined the security of a guaranteed offer to pursue his passion. He networked and worked his way into an interview for a full-time consulting role and ended up getting the job. What is even more telling about his drive is the fact that he interviewed and failed the previous summer to get an internship in consulting. It would have been easy to give up after that because it’s hard to get a role of that caliber without completing an internship in consulting, but he did. I pride myself on surrounding myself with people like Abdul because they make me better every day and remind me to never settle no matter the circumstance.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I have to thank my parents for most for my success because none of this is possible without them. They could have easily conformed to the circumstances/stereotype of being young Black parents in the inner-city of Boston during the late 90’s, but they didn’t. I am fortunate enough to say that there has never been a day in my life where I felt like I didn’t have every necessity I needed, which is not the case for some I grew up with or even in other parts of my family. This allowed me to be able to grow as a person and explore many areas of interest I had rather than having to work a job to make ends meet.

My mom called me before senior year started asking how many tickets I would be able to attain for graduation, as a large portion of my family is supposed to attend. I downplayed it, asking her “is it that serious” to invite that many people. She explained to me how many in my family who came before me may not have graduated high school or even gone to college so it was a respectable accomplishment. For me, it feels like this is what I am supposed to do and that’s a testament to the work my parents put in raising me to always want better for myself. This fuels me as I continue to get older because I will make sure that this is an expectation and not an exception in my family.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

Work on the west coast for an extended period of time. (Specifically, California)

Become an NBA Agent or work in an NBA front office.

What are your hobbies? Listening to music, enjoying time with friends/family, and traveling.

What made Davonté such an invaluable member of the Class of 2021?

“Davonte Higginbottom is nothing less than remarkable and to describe him as driven is an understatement. As a student, Davonte leverages every opportunity and, as a person, he is humble and gracious. Davonte has maintained a 3.6 GPA while finding time to be a vibrant participant in his campus community. Davonte is in the process of completing 100 volunteer hours to receive the Isenberg Global Citizens Certificate, has led the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management Career Fair as the Co-Chairman, and was part of the operations team for a local basketball tournament. While Davonte has found his home in the Isenberg School of Management as a double major with Operations & Information Management and Sport Management, his second home is with the UMass Amherst Division I Men’s Basketball team. Davonte has been a rock of stability to the team as the Student Manager, Head Student Manager, and most recently, a walk-on to the Division I team. It has been so exciting to witness Davonte’s dedication and fortitude come to fruition. Above all else, Davonte displays a sense of kindness and thoughtfulness with everyone he interacts with. Davonte is a shining light in the Class of 2020 and those that know him will most definitely miss his gleaming smile and positive energy.”

William D. Brown, Jr. 
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs
Isenberg School of Management │ University of Massachusetts Amherst


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