By Jeff Shearer
Chantel Tremitiere was born six years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.
"My life has been built on dreams," she says. "His speech is one that has guided my life."
Tremitiere has earned many titles in her life. Professional basketball player. Coach. Entrepreneur. Cancer survivor. In August, she'll add another. Doctor.
The former Auburn basketball star and assistant coach will earn her PhD from Auburn in educational foundations of leadership and technology.
"I've always wanted to do things that no one said I could do," says Tremitiere, who played for Coach Joe Ciampi from 1987-91. "Where I came from, people didn't think I'd be starting for a Division I team or playing for a national championship. No one thought I'd be playing in the WNBA.
"I always knew I wanted to play basketball. It was great living out that dream. But I also knew during that time that there was going to be more. There was going to have to be an 'after.' People don't realize that 'after' after the dream."
While a student-athlete at Auburn, Tremitiere earned her bachelor's in public relations and marketing.
"I always promised my mom that I would come back and get my master's," she says. "It was a competition between my brothers. I have 14 brothers and sisters."
When women's basketball coach Terri Williams-Flournoy offered an opportunity to be a graduate assistant, Tremitiere returned to the Plains.
"To be able to come back and not only pursue my MBA and be a coach with the same team I played with, that was another dream," she says. "And it was an amazing experience."
After a game in December 2014, Tremitiere noticed a lump in her thyroid, which turned out to be cancerous.
"Four days later, I was in the hospital getting my first surgery," she says. "I'm good. I'm healthy. I'm not running down the court anytime soon."
Tremitiere, who owns an Atlanta graphic design and video production company, Blank Mindz, traded in her coach's whistle for her student's laptop.
"I've loved coming back to campus," she says. "So much has changed 25 years later. Being in Auburn and being in the Athletics department, there's no better place to be. It doesn't get much better than learning for a lifetime at Auburn University, a place that's given me so many opportunities.
"To get not only get my MBA and my PhD now, it's even past the dream. I'm living my dream past my dream. I'll be the first kid in the family to get my doctorate. My mom already has hers."
Ever the point guard, Tremitiere wants to create opportunities for her employees to excel.
"My job was so easy, it was just to make everybody else look good," she says. "As a boss, that's your job, too, is to make everybody else look good.
"It was great going back to school with kids who could be my kids. I've been able to foster that into my communication. Into being a better boss. Into being a better person. That's what's invaluable about an Auburn education."
The speech that has inspired Chantel Tremitiere for a lifetime inspires her still.
"One of the things that anybody, regardless of color, can take from Dr. King's speech," she says. "We as athletes, we as coaches, always say, 'I don't care what you say. I don't care how you talk about your game. I want to see your actions.' That's what he did. That speech was just the culmination of all his actions up to that point. If no one knew who Dr. King was, he wouldn't have had that many people listening to his speech, anyway.
"It goes to show that you can make a difference. No matter who you are. No matter where you came from. You can make a difference and you can live out any dream that you want. How miniscule you might think it is. I always dreamt of playing professional basketball and there was no league until seven years after I left. One thing I've always taken away from his speech is whatever you can dream of, if you're willing to work for it, then you're going to get it. Period."
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer