Q&A: RJ Barnes (MiM’22) on Balancing Commitments as a Student Athlete

Photo of RJ Barnes, Master's in Management student and athlete at Georgetown McDonough

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During the month of February, Georgetown McDonough joins the nation in commemorating Black History Month. To celebrate, we are spotlighting several of our exceptional Black students in the McDonough community who are creating impact and exemplifying the Georgetown spirit through their academics, careers, and personal lives. 

After being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 2017, Roosevelt (RJ) Barnes (MiM’22) made the decision to defer his professional baseball career and focus on his undergraduate degree at Morehouse College. Now, he continues to play baseball while he pursues a Master’s in Management (MiM) – combining the most valuable skills from each area of his life to excel in his academic, athletic, and professional pursuits at Georgetown McDonough.

We spoke with Barnes about his experience as a student athlete and how the values he learned from his athletic career, combined with Georgetown’s Jesuit values, aided in his success as both student and a business professional.

Why did you choose to pursue your Master’s in Management degree at Georgetown McDonough? 

I was looking for a one-year program that would give me the technical skills to succeed in business environments, and Georgetown’s MiM program was the obvious choice because it focuses on developing data analysis and problem-solving skills within the context of a manager. Also, the program provides students with consulting experience through the Global Business Experience.

What are your career goals? How has your experience at McDonough helped you achieve your professional goals? 

After graduating from Georgetown, I will work for Deloitte as a strategy consulting analyst. Further down the road, I hope to use the skills learned from my time as a consultant to help Major League Baseball develop their Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI) programming to support youth outreach and increase participation in baseball among underserved youth. 

Are there any professors or mentors in the McDonough community that have made an impact on your experience at Georgetown? 

Father (Ronald) Anton and Coach (Edwin) Thompson have enhanced my experience here at Georgetown. Coach Thompson allowed me to play Division I baseball for most of my time here at Georgetown – this commitment required me to push myself and manage my time effectively, which has helped me grow as a person. Father Anton has been a person I can talk to outside of my educational and athletic programming to learn more about the Jesuit tradition. 

Outside of your academics and career, are you involved in any extracurricular activities?

Outside of my time as a student athlete, I volunteer at the National Youth Baseball Academy. 

You were drafted by the Cincinnati Reds to play professional baseball. Why did you choose to defer? 

When I visited Morehouse College, I had this deep feeling that Morehouse was where I needed to be if I truly wanted to make a difference in my community. Additionally, I knew having an education would give me the best opportunity to build the life I want. 

What has your experience been like as both a master’s student and an athlete? How do you manage both?

Balancing the workload required me to focus on building healthy habits more than anything. I had to plan out when I would study, work out, or meditate, and remain disciplined enough to stick to that plan. It was a push the first few weeks, and then it became a routine. 

What is one of the most important lessons you have learned while at Georgetown?

The concept of caring for the whole person is the most important thing I’ve learned here at Georgetown. I have always focused on being a well-rounded individual, but this concept is beautifully articulated in the saying “develop the whole person.”

Anything else you’d like to share about your story?

Being a student-athlete has been a determining factor in a lot of my success. It has taught me how to work on teams, have perseverance and accountability, among countless other important life lessons.