BEAVERTON, Oregon – Like all the students in the VCU School of Business, field hockey senior Melanie Marotta was taught the importance of making contacts, no matter where those contacts come from. The Williamsburg, Va. native aced that lesson last summer while she was on her usual summer job at Paul's Deli.

As they had done for many years, Nike was holding a Pro Football camp at nearby Zable Stadium and Marotta just happened to be working one night when a group of NFL pros and Nike representatives stumbled upon the local eatery.

"It was just a casual conversation with one of the Nike reps and he told about the 12-week summer internship program. Right away I knew it was something that I wanted to pursue," Marotta said.

After that night, she went back to focusing on being a vital part of the Rams' field hockey program, starting all 17 games last year, scoring two goals and dishing out two assists.

Even with a demanding schedule with the Black & Gold, Marotta remained at the top of her game in the classroom, earning her third straight Dean's Scholar Award for the VCU School of Business, as well as earning an induction into Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society for top accounting students.

But as she was taught early on at VCU, Marotta kept in touch with the Nike representatives and landed a coveted spot as a summer intern at the top athletic apparel company in the world.

"The opportunity that Melanie received with the summer internship at Nike is phenomenal," Director of Student and Alumni Engagement for the School of Business Douglas Knapp said. "Internships and relationships are critical for business students in today's tough economy and spending the summer at Nike exposes Melanie to limitless contacts and gives her a tremendous experience to list on her resume."

Landing the internship shouldn't surprise anyone. Marotta has succeeded at nearly every task handed to her. She finished her junior year at VCU with a cumulative GPA of 3.935 and has earned a spot on the Dean's List and Athletic Director's Honor Roll in every semester since arriving on campus.

"They really don't get any better than Melanie," Knapp added. "She has excelled at the very highest level academically, and it only takes a few minutes of interaction with her to realize what a special student and person she is."

Marching over 3,000 miles across the country isn't exactly easy to do, but for Marotta, it was an opportunity that couldn't be passed up.

"This is an experience that a very limited number of people are granted and I'm truly honored to be involved with Nike," she said. "To be interacting with some of the brightest business minds in the world is truly unique and I'm really grateful for getting this opportunity."

Of course the chance to shop at the exclusive Nike employee store isn't a bad perk to have either.

"Let's just say I packed an extra bag in my suitcase so that I can fill it up while I'm out there," she added.