UT Haslam Student’s Love of Star Wars Leads to Unexpected Opportunities

December 7, 2022

When Cassidy Dodge was growing up in San Diego, receiving Star Wars toys from her parents and watching the movies with her brother, she couldn’t have imagined that being from a Star Wars family would lead her to connect with a nationwide community and apply business skills she would learn at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. That’s exactly what happened, though, when Dodge started a Star Wars podcast with some friends during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now a senior management major with concentrations in information management and entrepreneurship at UT’s Haslam College of Business, Dodge says her childhood interest in Star Wars deepened with the release of The Mandalorian series in 2019. She became so absorbed with the show’s characters and plot that she decided to learn everything she could about the Star Wars universe. “That’s when I fell in love with Star Wars for myself, not just because of my family’s love for it,” she says.

Her newfound passion led her to connect with other fans through social media. By early 2020, she had formed friendships with five other female Star Wars fans at different colleges around the country. When the pandemic hit, the group zoomed constantly, Dodge says, talking about college life in addition to their love of Star Wars. Encouraged by a successful Star Wars podcaster they’d met online, they decided to record their conversations and start The Ladylorians Show, the first all-female-led Star Wars podcast.

Since launching in fall 2020, the show has created a network of fans all over the U.S., including people who work behind the scenes in the Star Wars universe. Dodge has now met four of her co-hosts in person and found an internship opportunity through that network. “I lived in a skyscraper in Miami for a summer, working for a commercial real estate company,” she says. “I would never have expected amazing opportunities like that before this podcast.”

Dodge credits her Haslam coursework with teaching her how to network and to approach the podcast with a business mindset. “Figuring out the podcast’s ‘why?’ and how it was going to be run and marketed, and what our brand image was going to be — these are all things I’ve learned so much about at Haslam,” she says.

Applying Business Skills in Surprising Ways

Dodge has always been interested in a career in law enforcement. In researching the field, she was surprised to learn that law enforcement agencies look for people with a variety of majors and specialties, not just criminology or criminal justice. Majoring in business management felt like a good fit for her personality and goals. 

“I love being able to help people and learn about how companies work and the connection between employees and employers, so I fell in love with management,” she says. “I also wanted to do something computer related because information management and databases are big parts of every industry.”

In the past few years, she’s been learning about law enforcement and how it intersects with security. After she graduates in May 2023, she plans to pursue a graduate degree in cybersecurity and then work in cybersecurity for federal law enforcement. In the meantime, she is doing an internship with the Secret Service. 

“I’m enjoying it a lot, but there’s not much I can say about it,” she says with a laugh. “It’s an amazing opportunity to learn how the Secret Service helps on the federal level and here in Knoxville. It’s been interesting to see how many things they’re involved with other than protection.”

For Dodge, learning how seemingly unrelated paths can overlap has been a continuing theme during her time at UT. As she’s found ways to take the knowledge and skills she’s gained in her courses and apply them to everything from her podcast to her law enforcement goals, she hopes other students and employers will consider how useful business majors can be.

“With a business major, you can pursue things that are not necessarily related to your field, and you have no idea who you might meet through your passions, or what you’ll learn outside of your degree,” she says. “I would tell people to pursue what you enjoy and do that on top of your career, because you have no idea how they’ll intertwine with each other and how much fun it will be.”


Stacy Estep, writer/publicist, sestep3@utk.edu