|Seven NCCU Athletics
Staff to Earn Master’s Degrees Saturday
Written by Jailen Leach, NCCU Sports Information Intern
DURHAM, N.C. – Saturday, Dec. 14, will be a big day for the graduating student-athletes at North Carolina Central University. However, before the student-athletes receive their bachelor’s degrees on Saturday afternoon, seven NCCU Athletics Department representatives (staff, coaches, interns) will be graduating with master’s degrees during the university’s 134th Commencement Exercises on Saturday morning.
The seven individuals include senior associate athletics director for strategic communications Kyle Serba, assistant volleyball coach Emma Celentano, assistant softball coach Cat Tarvin, men’s basketball operations assistant Michelle McLeod, and Athletics Department interns Shaquillia Murphy, Morris Jones and Andre Frank.
NCCU Director of Athletics Dr. Ingrid Wicker McCree has high praise for her excelling team members.
"I am so proud of our staff members who have shown not only their dedication to our student-athletes, program and university, but their commitment to their education and careers,” McCree said. “I admire them for balancing their personal and professional lives while pursuing a graduate degree.”
The seven new graduates join a list of current athletics staff members and coaches that have earned a master’s degree from NCCU. That list includes head men’s basketball coach LeVelle Moton, director of tennis and head men’s tennis coach D. Curtis Lawson, chief of staff Jonathon Leach, head athletic trainer Sean Thomas, life skills coordinator Kia Robinson, scholarship coordinator Donald Jack, business office assistant Michael Robinson, and director of men’s basketball operations Garrett Bridges.
McCree proudly pointed out the impact her staff has had in guiding graduating student-athletes, graduate assistants and interns to various occupations.
“I am proud of how our athletics program has served the university as an experiential learning classroom setting,” McCree said. “We have mentored and helped groom numerous professionals in various fields to include athletics administration, coaching, business, mass communication and sports medicine. The students who have the opportunity to work in our program are able to put practice to pedagogy which produces a more well-rounded individual for which industry leaders respect and desire.
“I am thankful for all of our team members who teach, mentor and coach our students,” McCree added. “It is important we continue to support the university’s goal of student success and this is just one way for which NCCU Athletics assists in this endeavor.”
|Three Eagles Represent NCCU Athletics at NFL
Careers in Football Forum
Kyle Serba Photo Credit NCCU
ATLANTA – Through continued collaboration with the National Football League, three North Carolina Central University students - track& field student-athlete Xavier Mfikwa, cheerleader Ti’Eja Woodson and sports information intern Jailen Leach - represented the NCCU Department of Athletics at the NFL’s fourth annual HBCU Careers in Football Forum alongside the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta, on Dec. 19-21.
The Careers in Football Forum serves to provide professional development and networking opportunities for HBCU students. Through this effort, students from participating institutions have the opportunity to engage with League and club executives and learn about career opportunities available to them in all areas of professional football. The Forum also teaches participants about the skills needed to secure employment and allows the league to assist them in becoming strong candidates for open positions.
“I learned a lot,” said Mfikwa, a junior recreational therapy major who was nominated for the event by Dr. Catherine Dorwart, associate professor in NCCU’s Department of Kinesiology and Recreation Administration. “The forum provided us with different networking skills, and introduced us to internship and career opportunities.”
While at the Forum, participants competed in a group case study competition. Made up of eight groups, the competition required students to present on one of the following topics selected by NFL clubs: Diversity Among Front Office Staff; HBCUFan Engagement; Engaging Local University Students; Maintaining Employee Retention; Diversity and Inclusion Employee Engagement Plan; Cyber Security, Fan Safety and Stadium Security Plan; Social Media Engagement Plan; or Engaging Women Supporters. Each group presented its case study to a panel of NFL and club executives.
Mfikwa’s group presented ideas on how the Carolina Panthers could increase ticket sales and engagement with students from HBCUs, and they were deemed runners-up of the competition. Besides a second-place award, Mfikwa and his fellow group members received an invitation to participate at an NCAA event in May in Indianapolis.
"Each year, the NFL Careers in Football Forum brings together talented, bright minds to learn and explore the potential for opportunities in professional football," said Natara Holloway, Vice President of Football Strategy and Business Development with the NFL. "This program is one of the most important ways we engage with the HBCU community and helps to grow a more diverse and inclusive workforce across the league."
More information about the NFL Careers in Football Forum and the league’s relationship with HBCUs, can be found at: https://operations.nfl.com/football-ops/the-nfl-and-hbcus/strengthening-hbcus/
Senior Associate Athletics Director for Strategic Communications