Started last year, the Georgia Tech Athletic Association along with its Faculty Athletic Representative (FAR), Dr. Reginald DesRoches, began a program to link student-athletes with faculty members outside the classroom. On Friday, the first event for the 2016-17 academic year was held in the Arthur B. Edge Jr. Intercollegiate Athletics Building.
“Last year was great. I think the student-athletes appreciated the opportunity to talk with their faculty members outside the classroom,” commented DesRoches on the program’s success from last year. “Often times with their schedule, they don’t have a chance to talk one-on-one with the faculty members. So I think it was great from the student perspective.
“For faculty, I think it was interesting to see the student commitment, how much work they put into their sport and how they can balance that with their classwork. I think it gives the faculty members a new appreciation for all the commitment our student-athletes have for their sport. I want to get as many of our faculty involved in this as possible throughout the year.”
On Friday, nine faculty members were joined by several student-athletes for lunch in the Edge Dining Center. Faculty members are chosen by DesRoches, while the GTAA academic department paired one or two student-athletes with each faculty member, giving all an opportunity to engage in conversation.
Dr. Mitchell Walker, Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering, was paired this afternoon with track & field freshman Tyson Spears, a native of Roswell, Ga.
“It’s always good to get to know the student versus either just seeing them on the flyers or breezing around campus,” Walker stated. “It gives a personal touch to it and as you hear about things they are having challenges with, you can realize where to point them to for better resources, they know what they can actually ask a faculty member for and they don’t assume the faculty member knows.”
As a freshman, Spears came into the event ready to ask pertinent questions about academics at Tech and being a student-athlete at the same time. “Being a freshman, there is a lot to take in and being able to come here and get to know the faculty, I had a lot of questions I wanted to ask,” said Spears. “I wanted to sit back and just take it in, see what’s expected and asked for [by students] and what I can do to make it more convenient for both of us. It was really good to have an event like this.”
Walker and Spears both learned interesting facts about one another. Walker learned Spears came from an excellent high school in Georgia and excels academically, while Spears took the opportunity to inquire about the curriculum path as a biomedical engineer.
Today’s lunch kicked off this year’s campaign which will include two events per semester. To mix things up from last year, events this year will include both breakfast and lunch opportunities for the faculty members and student-athletes.