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Volleyball Champion in “Ready Position” for Picture Perfect Life

Kayden Thomas '20hen high-achiever Kayden Thomas BBA/MBA in Marketing ’20 wears her cap and gown this December, she will be counted twice: initially, among the 398 undergrads and again as one of the 436 graduate degrees. The honor student and sports champion completed the University of St. Thomas’ attractive five-year BBA/MBA program.

Going forward, Thomas is trading in her volleyball uniform for a coach’s cap and high-end camera gear. The self-described “busy gal” landed a part-time assistant coaching job at UST and already leads a thriving photography business with celebrity clients.

Marketing Knowhow Paid Off in Celebrity Clients

Astros right fielder Josh Reddick and his wife Jett are repeat customers. The savvy shutterbug attracted them through her strategic social media marketing.

Thomas recalled, “The Reddicks found me on Instagram when they had the twins and saw that I also have a newborn studio. I planned the studio shoot between playoff games when dad was home. Now I do their pictures all the time. They are so down to earth and fun to be around.”

She started the business as a way to earn extra money while going to school. It happened organically because Thomas already had a reputation as being the one who documented every gathering with the best photos.

Entrepreneurial Spirit Said Just Do It

“I needed the money, so I got a camera and charged $50 to take anybody’s picture,” Thomas said. “At first, I was self-taught and just said, ‘I’m going to do it.’ I learned editing techniques on YouTube and practiced, practiced, practiced. I don’t know how I kept up with it along with everything else I was doing, but I like to be on the go. Now, I’m proud and happy about where my business is. I’m a professional portrait photographer, and I do newborns, seniors, families and weddings.”

She chose to study marketing because she knew it would show her how to build her business. And saving time with UST’s five-year BBA/MBA program was an opportunity she saw as too good to pass up.

Encouragement from a Trusted Coach

She loves UST and is quick to acknowledge the person who made the university so appealing in the first place — The University’s Head Women’s Volleyball Coach Keanne Burt, who had been Thomas’ coach throughout high school.

Burt said, “When she joined the program to complete her BBA/MBA, I knew we were lucky to have her. She helped us to a championship, all while balancing school and her successful business. She has now stayed to help assist the program and is helping us reach our program goals of another championship season.”

A Champion on Her Way to a Photo Finish

If running a business and going to school full-time wasn’t enough, Thomas also helped to win a volleyball championship for the Celts.

“We won our conference and got conference championship rings,” Burt said. “Now, I have that one and my MBA class ring.”

In the fall, she will add a wedding band to that picture. Thomas is living her dream and fully on the court.

“I’m doing what I love to do, photography and volleyball. To do them forever would be ideal.”

A Message from Kayden Thomas