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Co-op at Nike Says, "I Can't Wait Till Tomorrow!'"

University of Cincinnati fashion student Sarah Knight is on co-op at Nike, Inc.  She calls it the opportunity of a lifetime, adding, "Not too many people can leave work and say, 'I can't wait till tomorrow!'"

Date: 8/23/2005 12:00:00 AM
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Dottie Stover, drawings from Sarah Knight

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University of Cincinnati fashion student Sarah Knight, 22, of Tulsa, Okla., just finished up a prestigious co-op at Nike, Inc., and is walking away with "enough free gear to last a lifetime!"

And while that's true, it's not the best part, according to Sarah.

As an athlete with asthma, University of Cincinnati fashion junior Sarah Knight has often been left breathless, fumbling for her inhaler. 

However, she recently found herself breathing a sigh of relief as the recipient of one of a handful of extremely competitive international summer internships offered by athletic apparel-maker Nike, Inc.

“I have always wanted to work at Nike.  I prepared to compete for their Adrenaline internship program for over a year.  I took what many people might consider a physical weakness – asthma – and turned it into a professional strength,” explained Knight, 22, of Tulsa, Okla.

Because of fashion designs she submitted to Nike’s Adrenaline competition in the spring, Knight will begin working at the company’s Beaverton, Ore., headquarters on June 21.  She’ll be one of a small number of paid interns accepted from around the world for the June 21-Aug. 19 work experience.

For the competition, Knight created athletic apparel specifically designed for asthmatics, so that they could easily and inconspicuously carry inhalers.  Her ideas include a running bra with a netted pocket for an inhaler; a tennis dress with hidden zippers along vertical seams providing access to a small inner carry-pouch; a cumber-bund waist pouch that can go from an athletic afternoon to an evening in the club; an interior waist pouch fitted at the back of running tights; and a hidden pocket inside the decorative ruffles of a bodywear dress.

With all the concepts – but most especially the last – Knight was actually designing for herself.  She is an internationally ranked baton twirler and, also, a runner as well as a former gymnast, speed skater and dancer.  “I’m always trying to tuck my inhaler into my bra or my waistline.  I can’t be without it.  An asthmatic attack (involuntary constriction of the muscles surrounding the airways or a swelling of the airways) can happen in an instant.  It’s very painful being without air.  And dangerous,” said Knight who was hospitalized this past winter because of her asthma.

About 17 million Americans similarly suffer from asthma, and Knight figured she can’t be the only one who also loves athletics.  Her ultimate goal, she states, is “to help others deal with a problem I’ve had all my life.  It also shows that design can have an impact to help individuals lead fuller lives.”  Knight’s even hopeful that athletic wear for asthmatics might encourage more asthma sufferers to take up sports-related activities.  “Exercise helps strengthen the lungs, which is a real health issue for those of us with asthma,” she added.

Knight considers her designs for athletes with asthma to be a work in progress.  She plans to continue with the concepts, creating athletic wear for men, women and children with asthma for her College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning senior project next year.

Beyond that, she dreams of going to work for Nike full-time upon graduation, and so, this internship is just the starting line for her.  Knight affirms, “I’ve always known there’s only one place I want to go after graduating from Cincinnati.  I’m heading for Oregon.” 

Knight’s achievement is only the latest of many kudos recently won by UC fashion students.  Among others from the past year are

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