Kasia and Ola Pitak: Double Masters of Tennis and Business


Both Kasia (left) and Ola Pitak (right) graduated in May with two Manderson master’s degrees apiece in marketing and management. We caught up with them for a few questions.

Where are you from? 

Kasia: Krakow, Poland. When I was 5 [and my sister was 3], my parents moved to England and what was only supposed to be a short time ended up being 16 years. My sister and I attended school there and were introduced to tennis there. I started playing tennis at the age of 7 and my sister at the age of 5, we have continued playing until now.

What led you to UA?

Ola: To be perfectly honest, tennis is what led me to UA as without my sport I would not have been able to attend this amazing university. Covid hit in the middle of my undergraduate degree, therefore as I got closer to my graduation date, which was May 2021, I started looking for options on how I can continue furthering my education and still play competitive tennis. I managed to get in contact with the coaches at Bama and we built an amazing connection right from the first conversation. I started supporting the team from Poland, as I felt like part of the family even though I was thousands of miles away. I am also very fortunate to have been able to have experience graduate school with my sister, who is also on the tennis team here at Alabama. We both joined in August 2021 and have supported each other both on court and in the classroom. This also led us to UA, as we wanted to play doubles together, so since the team had 2 roster spots available, we knew that it was meant to be.

What led you to business in general, and your areas specifically?

Kasia: My sister and I, for as long as we can remember, grew up pretending to own our own little business. Back then it was just children’s imaginations, but we always knew that if we ever could study business we could, for the slightest chance we might do something together in the future. So, when we were given the choice to learn at Alabama and play tennis, how could we say no! During my time at the University, I have gained two master’s degrees, one in marketing with a specialization in social media and another in management with a specialization in global business.

Ola: From a very young age, I knew that I wanted to study business as it is an unavoidable part of life, however it also teaches other skills such as soft skills, communication skills and leadership skills, all of which cannot necessarily be taught from a textbook, but rather by putting oneself into those situations, and at UA, it’s a great blend of real life experiences and theory. The reason why I was drawn to management is because, prior to coming to college, I always was involved in the process of planning and organizing any events we would play in, therefore I was super interested in how I could become more efficient, and how this process would look like if the group was bigger. The reason why I chose marketing is because I wanted to learn how to find a footing in today’s social media landscape, there is so much psychology and strategy to how value can be presented, so I wanted to understand these methods, and how to utilize them.

What has been your experience with your master’s programs?

Kasia: My experience at Bama has been nothing short of amazing, from not knowing that there would be a spot for both of us, to living in Tuscaloosa for two years and being surrounded by so many incredible people. Both masters’ programs have been amazing, they have built off each other and not only taught me textbook knowledge but real-life knowledge. I have been very blessed not only to have great professors that care about their students and want them to achieve excellence after, but also great coaches, staff members and people around me. School in America is not just the studying but also the things surrounding it. I experienced my first ever game day and tailgating. I attended many sporting events and got to take part in the Crimson Tide environment.

Ola: I have loved every moment of my graduate experience. Granted, there have been some moments where I have felt stressed and overwhelmed due my demanding schedule, but given the support system I have found here from my coaches, teammates, professors, and fellow students, I couldn’t imagine a better place to achieve my graduate degree goals. Also, being an international student, the college experience is so different from that which you find in Poland or England, starting with the size of the campus, to the crazy game days where there are floods of people everywhere. So, looking back, my graduate experience is more than just the classes I have taken (which were amazing, of course) but it is the people I have met and made connections with, working with industry professionals on various projects, and the purpose and drive to continuously improve and learn from one another. Each day brought something new, but I believe that by stepping outside of my comfort zone, I was able to better myself as a person, both in my personal and professional life.

What’s next for you? What are your career goals? 

Kasia: It’s difficult to say what’s going to happen and where I’m going to end up. Currently, I am looking for a job around the Birmingham area that will incorporate what I learnt, and what I like to do. I pray that God will lead me to where I need to go and to what I need to do. Who knows? Maybe one day I will start my own little business with my sister or start a nonprofit. I am very grateful for my time at Alabama. I met some amazing people that are now a very big part of my life, and whilst I am a little nervous, I’m proud to say I have a family here that will always have my back!

Ola: My goal is to play professional tennis, I hope that within the next three years I will be able to be among the top players in the world, winning and competing for Grand Slams. This, however, is a very tough path to take and there are no guarantees. Therefore, the two graduate degrees I have obtained from UA give me peace of mind that when tennis is no longer part of my life, I will be able to jump into a profession that I enjoy whether that be in marketing or management. I feel well prepared for my future and am excited to see what the future holds.

Photo credit: Jaclyn Head

Authored by

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Zach thomas

Director of Marketing & Communications