For Janice Pettyjohn, what started as an after school extracurricular activity in middle school has turned into a historic job opportunity. The 22-year-old south Jersey native became the first woman hired by Howard University's Football Program for a full-time role.
According to the Burlington County Times, Pettyjohn was brought on to the HBCU's football program as the Assistant Director of Football Operations –– a position she's been preparing for since attending Howard as a Sports Medicine major.
"I'm super grateful for this position," Pettyjohn told The County Times. "Being 22 years old and getting a full-time position at Howard fresh out of college –– it's rare. Coach [Larry] Scott really saw the potential in me."
After health issues prevented Pettyjohn from being able to participate in extracurricular activities as a middle schooler, she took it upon herself to find ways to be involved after school.
"No one wants to come right home after school; you want to do something," she said. "So I started managing the basketball team in seventh grade then I did it in eighth grade and it ended up just becoming something that I loved without realizing that I love because it just became second nature."
Pettyjohn went on to manage her high school's football team before attending Howard University. She enrolled in the school's sport medicine program. Former Bison head coach Mike London offered her an undergraduate position as equipment manager and graphic designer for the team.
"And then from there my name just kind of started floating around," she explained. "And next thing I know, I'm working with operations, I'm working with color commentating people on the radio, I'm working with the (sports information) department."
"I was always the person with the kind of mentality like that if it has to get done, I'm going to be the one that gets it done," she added.
After Larry Scott came on as the Bison's new head coach, Pettyjohn said she was giving additional responsibilities, including recruitment.
"He gave me the same responsibilities that he was doing and little did I know he and Coach Scott both were preparing me for this job that they wanted me to have once I graduated," she said.
Pettyjohn has plans down the line to open up a sports medicine facility in low-income areas to ensure all student-athletes receive adequate and quality care they need to succeed in the game.