True Blue Give – Student-Athlete Improvement Center Helps Blue Raiders Transition to College


This is the second in a series of features showing how your support of BRAA is impacting Blue Raider student-athletes! True Blue Give 2022 will take place February 14-16, though Blue Raider fans are encouraged to show their support early here: MT Athletics thanks you for considering donating to the #BuildBlueNow campaign, BRAA or an athletic program of your choice.

MURFRESBORO, Tenn. — Todd Wyant wears many different hats on any given day while working at the Student-Athlete Enhancement Center. One moment he is hosting tutoring sessions for an accounting student later that evening. Another is a smiling face offering a blue book to a student-athlete taking an exam later in the day.

The director of “SAEC”, as the folks at the Murphy Center call him, might help a student check his progress toward graduation with his class schedule next semester, and then simply offer good life advice to athletes like footballer Peyton DePriest, who says she frequently drops by her office whenever she needs someone to talk to about something.

“He’s kind of like my therapist,” DePriest said half-jokingly, acknowledging how Wyant helped her identify which graduate program would be best for her as she sought to take advantage of her additional eligibility due of the COVID-19 pandemic. “He listens to all my problems and gives me really good advice. He has so many athletes he takes care of. But every time I go he just finds time to sit down and talk about everything. I need. I’ve really enjoyed it over the years.”

It’s that personal connection, Wyant said, that really makes the job meaningful for him and his staff, who are among the first people both rookies and incoming student-athletes meet when they come to campus. because of the wide range of help they can provide. . Whether it’s helping them get their BlueID so they can buy their textbooks, to class registration, how to register for the MCAT, LSAT, GRE, or another app for schools higher when they leave MT.

“Our intentions are to really help student-athletes transition to Middle Tennessee as smoothly as possible,” Wyant said.

Wyant is quick to point out that SAEC, located at Gate 1 of Floyd Stadium, operates under the umbrella of the Division of Student Affairs, rather than directly with the athletic department.

Mainly because it highlights how he and his staff, including the associate director Earls of Wynnifredassistant director wes hofackerAthletic Academic Advisor madison lowrance and secretary Wendy Gamble, have connections across campus in areas such as career development and counseling, which allow them to expand their expertise and reach. Help connect student-athletes with advisors in specialized fields, such as aerospace, or even set up help with counseling services if that’s a need for that particular student.

It also means that SAEC staff are familiar with many of the university’s various academic rules, such as that international students are required to take at least nine on-campus credits, and can help student-athletes navigate their own sports schedules with their major, and also act as a conduit when athletics and academics need to communicate.

For male tennis player Fransico Rocha from Portugal, this help was great as he pursued a degree in economics, especially with SAEC’s relationship with his teachers, which made for a smooth academic experience.

“In Portugal, I think they have a different approach to school,” Rocha said, pointing out that varsity athletics is not an entity in Portuguese universities. “Here it’s easier to manage because the teachers are more willing to understand that we have sports, which is the most important thing. If I took economics lessons in Portugal, the teacher would just say ‘oh ok , you can’t come to the exam? Bad luck for you. And here the teachers are more willing to understand a different situation.”

Rocha said the work on office life skills, helping student-athletes learn to manage their time, build relationships with teammates and develop their overall maturity, has been a big help when it comes to moved to the United States for his undergraduate career. And this help both in the classroom and on the field only increases the value of his scholarship in the long run.

In addition to the valuable help of staff, the SAEC is also equipped with a comprehensive computer lab, often filled with specialized software that students need in areas such as concrete management or mechatronics, as well as areas of to set up tutoring sessions or study rooms. .

“We just want to remove all barriers,” Wyant said. “We just don’t want them coming in and going ‘I didn’t know (I needed that)’ or ‘You didn’t have that.'”

DePriest said she often borrows graphing calculators from SAEC, “because nobody has a $100 calculator around anymore.” She also pointed to things like lab goggles and scantrons as some of the physical resources SAEC can provide.

Not all Blue Raider athletes are in SAEC every week or even every year after completing their transition to college, Wyant said. That’s okay, he notes, because it often means they’ve learned enough during this transition process to become self-sufficient. But he knows the impact of his team’s work is felt when he sees the GSR and APR reports that come out each year from the Athletic Department. Middle Tennessee recently set a school record with a 93% graduation rate in 2021, the eighth consecutive year MT has set or tied a school record in this category.

“We never know what percentage we’re helping, but we know we’re helping them,” Wyant said. “We’re very proud, it’s kind of our championship, to have such a high GSR and APR.”

SAEC receives funding from BRAA, with Wyant noting that BRAA funds have recently helped upgrade bathrooms at facilities, but donations to BRAA are felt throughout SAEC through scholarships funded by these generous benefactors. which give a chance to students from all over the world. world, from all academic backgrounds to have the opportunity to obtain a degree in a field that suits them.

With COVID, Wyant has noticed an increase in his team to help student-athletes with personal issues, and he hopes to continue expanding the myriad of professional development opportunities SAEC already offers, from resume writing to dinner parties. label. As COVID numbers continue to improve in the region, look back to some of the community service opportunities SAEC used to lead, such as the Special Olympics. And with the transfer portal, Wyant expects to have even more opportunities to help incoming and outgoing student-athletes achieve their academic goals and make the decision that’s best for them.

For now though, he’s thrilled that the likes of defensive end Jordan Ferguson found success in Murfreesboro and embraced the opportunity they had. And for Ferguson, he hopes future Blue Raiders will understand that the SAEC is ready to help them if they need it.

“I think a lot of students should know and a lot of parents should know that there’s a program or there’s a college-only facility for student-athletes,” Ferguson said. “They take really good care of you. Help them with books, provide tutors and extra help, they will have a specific time for you to come and have someone just for you. For every age group. They care about you, they help you, they help you find the best job and the best career to help you succeed in the future.”

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