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LEAP to prepare students for ‘world of work, life’

Written by Isaiah Smart


As the year winds down, students are still being regarded with importance as VSU joins the Liberal Education and America’s Promise Employer-Educator Compact initiative.

The LEAP initiative is sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and aims to provide students with a higher quality education.

The program’s purpose is to provide students with the ability to attain a valued education that prepares them for the world of work and life in general through liberal arts. The program provides students with intangible skills, such as critical thinking, which supporters feel are key to a higher quality education.

A recent survey commissioned by the AACU LEAP initiative shows that nearly 90 percent of employers said that the skills they seek in their new hires are abilities of thinking and communication skills provided in a solid liberal education.

Employers look for skill sets that are not always particular to major requirements and Dr. Bill McKinney, VSU President, says that he intends to give Blazers the opportunity to compete.

Critical thinking and effective communication will be the focus of the program.

Dr. McKinney, who has been involved with LEAP since 2008, brought the idea upon beginning his presidency last July. With intentions of making VSU one of the premier universities in the nation, Dr. McKinney is passionate about the implementation of this program.

Upon being invited to join the LEAP President’s trust in January, Dr. McKinney made it possible for VSU to become the first public university in Georgia to participate in LEAP at this level.

VSU has collaborated in this effort with Azalea Health, South Georgia Medical Center and the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce.

“The LEAP program facilitates communication between regional community and business leaders and VSU, cultivating involvement with the university,” Kier Scrivenor, internet marketing strategist for Azalea Health, said.

Azalea Health currently has five interns–three from the computer science department and two from the business department—that are part-time employees. These students serve as development team members and administrative assistants, respectively.

“We hope our partnership with VSU through the LEAP program will spark interest in the Computer Science Department,” Scrivenor said.

Scrivenor hopes that other businesses will collaborate with VSU in order to affect the university’s curriculum that will reflect current industry needs.

Thressea Boyd, VSU’s director of communications, said that the program will ensure that more college students gain the broad outcomes of a liberal education and concrete experience by applying their learning in real-world settings.

LEAP incorporates business leaders and over 100 college and university presidents. The initiative will continue to take form and will soon be initiated as tactics to effectively implement are defined.

“I expect VSU to become a leader in the national debate over the importance of higher education for the global economy and for democratic societies,” Dr. McKinney said.

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