Set up for success

Wright State paved the way for two-time alumna Nicole Cantrell

Alumna Nicole Cantrell, who works in the contracting career field at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, often returns to Wright State to participate in career fairs and speaker events.

While pursuing her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Wright State University, Nicole Cantrell admits that it never crossed her mind to pursue a professional career at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. However, she is grateful that her alma mater broached the idea.

The Bellbrook native earned her bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership in 2014 and an MBA from Wright State three years later. She was raising two children and worked full-time while pursuing her MBA. Cantrell is forever grateful for Wright State steering her toward the Air Force base.

“I got a job at the base immediately following my MBA through Wright State University’s Career Services department,” she said. “Career Services sent an email stating that the base was hiring contract specialists, and the position piqued my interest, so I applied. That is how I got connected — the university presented me with a wonderful opportunity.”

Cantrell works as a civilian in the contracting career field at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where she serves as a procurement analyst in workforce development. She serves the Air Force Research Laboratory, collaborating with other centers at the base in recruiting, training and development of contracting team members. Prior to her role as a procurement analyst, she worked as an unlimited contracting officer creating documentation, reviewing proposals, and negotiating for various services and products to support the warfighter, including aircraft.

Cantrell often returns to Wright State to participate in career fairs and speaker events to connect with students and educate them on the amazing opportunities Wright-Patterson Air Force Base offers.

“I value this experience that Wright State presented to me and want to give back to current students. They need to be aware of resources here that can benefit them,” she said. “Also, it is beneficial to my recruiting role at the base because we have opportunities available for young people.”

Cantrell added that prior experience is often not necessary to work in contracting.

“My business background is certainly helpful. But I had no previous exposure to government contracting. It is not something you typically study in school,” she said. “We look for students with initiative who are eager. The base offers several entry-level positions and outstanding training for people who want to learn. It is a great place to be.”

A former Bellbrook High School student-athlete, Cantrell said participating in extracurricular activities prepared her for success. She learned teamwork and leadership skills as a shooting guard on the basketball team and a pitcher for her school’s softball squad.

Her children are following suit. She and her husband, Julius, are raising three children in Centerville; two are already active in sports. Her stepdaughter, Jaylynn, 13, is a cheerleader and has taken an interest in softball. Nolan, 7, has played soccer and T-ball and has taken an interest in basketball this year. The couple is also raising an 18-month-old baby, Laurel.

“Laurel tends to have interest in what her siblings are doing. So, we may see her active in sports someday, too,” Cantrell said.

As she continues to pay it forward to Wright State University, Cantrell is happy to share what it has to offer.

“This university is a great place to create your own experience. Traditional students can take advantage of dorm life and on-campus activities. Wright State also offers flexibility for people like me that commuted from home, worked full-time and raised kids while attending college,” she said. “Wright State University set me up for success in a lot of ways.”

Comments are closed.