For more than 10 years, ASU has been helping student-athletes who came to the University with risk factors, said Jean Boyd, senior associate athletic director for student athlete development.
Student athletics has pushed to put more emphasis on the higher achieving student-athletes as well, creating the Tip of the Fork program.
“What we’ve tried to do is create an opportunity for some of our best and brightest student-athletes to be engaged in leadership development with an emphasis on serving their immediate and further reaching community,” Boyd said.
The Tip of the Fork program helps teach leadership skills to these students, along with providing community service opportunities. Students must take 15 hours of coursework, complete 100 hours of community service and join the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
“We have not done any type of targeting program to identify some young leaders and really try to develop them into agents of change,” Boyd said. “This is brand new.”
Academic coach Shelby Crabtree said the students complete a community service project in which they can do anything as small as a canned food drive or something large-scale on a weekly basis.
“It’s really up to them, in terms of what they want to create out of this,” she said.
She said this program is a large résumé builder; the leadership courses and community services are in the range of what many employers want.
Tip of the Fork collaborated with the College of Public Programs and assistant dean to the college, Dana Newell.
“The College of Public Programs developed the leadership certificate that forms the curricular foundation for the program,” Newell said in an email. “A central component of the certificate will be participation in a service learning course where Tip of the Fork program scholars will do hands-on leadership and community projects.”
The learning course includes classes focused on leadership theory and classes focusing on studying successful leaders throughout history, Crabtree said. Additionally, there is hands-on work through classroom theoretical and demonstrating skills in real life.
Boyd said this is important in terms of improving the image of student-athletes.
“There’s a lot of stereotypes and the media sometimes tends to focus on the negative things about student-athletes and there’s characterized as, at times, selfish,” he said. “We know that many of our student-athletes are not only high achievers in their sport but they’re high achievers in class and they’re leaders.”
Qualification for the program is not easy. Applicants are required to produce a minimum GPA of 3.25, a personal statement and letters of recommendation. Boyd said the group typically looks for 3.5 GPAs or higher.
This excludes many student-athletes, but Crabtree has high hopes for the program.
“Hopefully it’ll be something that even if there are student-athletes that may not necessarily qualify for the program, it still sets a kind of culture within out department that’ll cultivate raising the whole student-athlete population up in terms of their performance,” she said.
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