July 10, 2012

VCU CONNECT PROGRAM QUICKLY TAKING SHAPE

By Daphne Adebayo, VCU Women’s Basketball Senior, Athletic Communications Intern

At the University of Virginia, Bo Greenwood received many accolades as a student-athlete, including being named Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year, an NCAA All-American, and winning an ACC championship. Even with his impressive list of accomplishments, Greenwood knew that the transition from being a student-athlete to the work force would be challenging.

“I was fortunate to have some outstanding mentors who helped teach and guide me through the transition,” said Greenwood.   

With the VCUconnect program, that’s something that Greenwood is trying to share with current student-athletes.

“Frankly, that uncertainty about what's next is intimidating,” Greenwood added.  “The combination of my professional experiences, along with having gone through what our student-athletes are going through now has prepared me to be an advocate and ally on their behalf.”

After hearing the wants and needs of the athletes and coaches, Greenwood started working on the VCUconnect program.

Although the program just started running in February, there are already more than 30 athletes in place for the summer.  Several recent graduates have also secured full-time jobs because of the relationships created from VCUconnect. 

Not only do the athletes benefit from the program, but early success has shown that the business community benefits as well.  The relationship allows an opportunity to work with students who already have valuable traits, such as knowing how to spend countless hours devoted to goals, working well with others, and the ability to take constructive criticism.

VCUconnect has over 40 partners to date, including large companies such as Bon Secours and Dominion Resources, as well as smaller organizations like Brandito, Colonial Scientific and Beecroft and Bull.

“We are fortunate to have the buy-in of each of these and other great companies in the area,” said Greenwood.  “By partnering together, we are impacting our student-athletes and the City of Richmond in a very tangible way.”

Although the program has had a lot of success finding organizations to partner with, Greenwood stresses that the number of partners does not matter; what is most important is to build sound and meaningful relationships.

Outside of working with organizations, VCUconnect also runs a series of workshops that student-athletes voluntarily attend.  By keeping the workshops elective, it allows an athlete the choice to engage in improving their future.

“We had about 16 students who actively participated [in the workshops] in the spring, and each has commented on how effective the sessions were,” Greenwood said.

Greenwood runs the sessions himself with the help of a select VCUconnect partners.  The goal is to provide the student-athletes with practical knowledge and skills they can use.  Session topics have included “The Right and Wrong Way to Use Social Media”, “Professional Dress by Young Professionals”, “How to Write a Resume that Doesn't Annoy People”, and “NetWorking the Room”. 

A few of the current students participating in the VCUconnect program include Peter Lee (men’s soccer), Jessie Krasko (women’s soccer), Andrew Shipp (men’s track & field), Josh Bostick (men’s track & field), Kelsey Powell (field hockey), Uzoamaka Ibeh (volleyball) and Kristin Boyd (volleyball).  

“Ultimately, the success of the program belongs to the student-athletes, and so far, they have done an amazing job,” said Greenwood.

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