For Gopher student-athletes, virtual spaces are offering more opportunities for professional development
The University of Minnesota offers multiple programs that help Gopher student-athletes develop life skills and prepare for careers after graduation, reinforcing important lessons and values that are learned through sports. The Land O'Lakes, Inc. Center for Excellence continues to host many of these opportunities through new virtual platforms.
Opened in 2018, the Land O'Lakes, Inc. Center for Excellence is a versatile center that has changed the way Gopher student-athletes live, practice, and study. During the year, student-athletes meet with mentors and alumni from the business community, practice their interviewing skills in businesslike settings, and attend programming designed to build their professional skills. While most of these interactions have taken place in-person in past years, the COVID-19 pandemic has limited social interactions, leading to events like Pro Day and programs like W.I.L.L. (Women Invested in Leadership and Learning) finding ways to sustain their purpose in a new and virtual manner.
W.I.L.L. goes virtual: This year, more than 300 student-athletes and 96 mentors met virtually four times, covering topics such as accountability, listening, resiliency, continuous learning, and the importance of leadership through stress. Two of the mentors who were able to participate in this year’s activities were Shelby Stark, a scientist at Land O’ Lakes, Inc., and Danielle Niedermaier, senior manager of global monitoring, evaluation, and learning at Land O’ Lakes Venture37.
We are grateful for the support of Land O'Lakes and the connections, engagement, and mentorship that the Land O'Lakes, Inc. Center for Excellence facilitates every day: both in-person and in this time of virtual connection.