Commencement 2022: Business senior, tennis player finds perfect match with supply chain management degree

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 27, 2022 – In the final weeks of her college career, Erin Chratian is facing a perfect storm of the most challenging classes in her four years and the busiest stretch of the Rams’ tennis season.

“It’s going great. Honestly,” says Erin, who graduates in May from the University of Rhode Island with a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management and a minor in Spanish. “I’m really just enjoying myself.”

When Erin and her twin sister, Sydney, both four-star tennis recruits, were touring colleges four years ago, they were looking for a rare chance to play on the same team, along with finding rigorous academic programs to advance their career hopes. 

Twins Sydney and Erin Chratian have been playing tennis since age 7, but this year was the first time they played competitive doubles together.

The sisters from Johns Creek, Georgia, found that at URI. They had a great visit during their campus tour. They loved the school and the welcoming atmosphere. And it checked off a key box.

“I always wanted to be able to spend four extra years with my twin sister,” says Erin. “College tennis programs are very competitive and we knew there was limited opportunity to play at the same college. So, to find a school that had two scholarship spots was an excellent opportunity.”

While Erin was certain about playing college tennis, she was less decisive about what to study. But she found a home in URI’s supply chain management program.

“Supply chain offers a variety of different avenues to explore and I enjoy working in a fast-paced environment where I can solve complex challenges,” she says. “Supply chain has proven itself to be critical to business success over the past two years and I am excited to be a part of key business solutions.” 

The last two years have probably been the perfect time to study supply chain management. The disruption the pandemic has caused to the global supply chain is evident to anyone who goes to the grocery store or watches the nightly news. And Erin’s classes have been completely relevant. Lectures, discussions and case studies have echoed the problems faced by companies around the world.

“We’ve learned a lot about resilience and agility within the supply chain,” she says. “Before the pandemic, a lot of companies didn’t know who their second- and third-tier suppliers were. With everything shutting down during the pandemic, it hurts when you don’t know how far back your supply chain goes. It really has taught us to look deeper than what’s on the surface within a company’s supply chain.”

Despite devoting about 20 hours a week to tennis, Erin has compiled at 3.96 grade-point average while maintaining a demanding course schedule. Among her favorite classes have been senior lecturer Brian Walsh’s Global Warehouse and Distribution Systems class and Transportation Logistics with lecturer Tess Booth.

“Erin is consistently among the most prepared students I have ever taught at URI,” says Walsh. “She has demonstrated an ability to examine complex situations and formulate viable solutions that reflect her comprehension of the intricacies associated with today’s global supply chains.”

Those talents extended to her work-study program at FM Approvals and internship last summer at Procter & Gamble, where she was a purchasing intern, conducted negotiations, compiled a sourcing strategy, and worked within supplier diversity. In August, she will join P&G as a purchasing manager.

“I really enjoyed my summer working for P&G,” Erin says. “I definitely got to apply a lot of concepts that I’ve learned. I knew pretty much everything that they were teaching us in training. URI definitely helped set me up to be successful.” 

Meanwhile, she’s taken full advantage of all the College of Business has to offer. She’s taken part in “shadow days” following directors and senior managers at CVS through their workday; assumed leadership roles as vice president of the URI Supply Chain Club, an instructor of URI 101, and student-athlete orientation leader; and reached out to the College’s large alumni network. 

“There’s a lot of really admirable and generous alumni that are willing to take time out of their busy work weeks to come and speak with you and provide insight and career advice,” she says. 

On the tennis courts, Erin has also stocked up on the honors. She’s regularly been among the team leaders in singles victories each season while competing in the top singles spot most of her four years. As a freshman, she was named to the Atlantic 10’s All-Conference Second Team. She’s also been the conference’s performer of the week three times and on its academic honor roll all eight semesters.

“Erin has been an impactful player in singles throughout her four years at URI, always being among the top players in the lineup,” said head coach Valerie Villucci. “She has also contributed successfully in the doubles lineup and has always been able to be partnered up with anyone on the team because of her ability and understanding of the game.”

But the highpoints of Erin’s URI athletic career have centered on team and family. One of her proudest moments is the Rams’ performance in the Atlantic 10 Championship in the 2020-21 season. The Rams, who were ranked in the top 100 of the Oracle ITA that season, made it to the semifinals of the conference tournament.

“Seeing everyone fight on the court was really nice,” says Erin. “We’ve had about seven different coaches between assistants and head coaches in the time that I’ve been here. So, we’ve been through a lot of adversity together. But it’s definitely helped us create a bond that I don’t think many other teams have.”

This semester, she also has been teamed with Sydney in doubles. The twins started tennis together at age 7. Lefties, they learned to play right-handed because the community lessons taught everyone to play that way. By age 11, they were traveling around the South every weekend for elite juniorsl tournaments. But this semester was their first time as a doubles team.

“It’s been perfect. My sister and I are definitely close,” says Erin, who’s roomed with Sydney the last two school years. “We’ve enjoyed doing everything from cooking dinners together to traveling together with the team. It’s definitely nice knowing I have someone that will back me no matter what.”

Sydney, who has led the Rams in singles wins this season along with teaming with Erin for a team-high eight doubles victories, is a pre-med student who will graduate in May with a degree in biology. This summer, Erin will help Sydney move to Boston, where she starts a one-year program at Harvard University as a research assistant in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine at Mass General Brigham.

In August, Erin will move to Cincinnati to join Procter & Gamble. But before that, she hopes to enjoy the summer with her parents, Ronald and Vanessa, and Sydney.