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McIntosh Powers Ithaca IT Department

Posted on January 20th, 2015 by

McIntosh Powers Ithaca IT Department

 By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

A nearly 25-year career in the Air Force kept Keith W. “Mac” McIntosh moving around the globe. His Bellevue University degree has been a critical factor in his career advancement.

Mac’s latest career stop is at Ithaca College as the Associate Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer. McIntosh joined Ithaca College, a comprehensive residential campus community of 7,000 students nestled in the scenic Finger Lakes region in the heart of upstate New York, in August 2014. His job responsibilities include providing vision, leadership, oversight, and management for the College’s academic and administrative information technology services, facilities, hardware, software, and staff.

 Mac is starting the New Year with a number of resolutions.

“The chief challenges/opportunities I look forward to tackling in 2015 are developing and implementing a robust IT Strategy, creating an IT Governance process, and restructuring our IT department to be agile and flexible,” said McIntosh.

Two tours at Offutt Air Force Base helped put Bellevue University on Mac’s radar. He took his first Bellevue University class in the fall of 2001 and earned his Bachelor of Science in Management of Information Systems in January 2003. A smooth enrollment process got Mac off on the right foot, but he did have a little extra help with that.

KeithandPenny“I was fortunate my wife, Penny, who also earned her degree from Bellevue University, also worked in Enrollment Management at Bellevue University,” he said.

Interaction with faculty and peers were among the highlights of Mac’s time at the University, with the Kirkpatrick Signature Series among his favorite classes.

“It stands out because the faculty really challenged me to think critically about each and every topic we discussed and for me to identify and develop my own core values,” McIntosh said. “I came away from my Bellevue University experience with many things — improved communication (oral and written) skills, improved critical thinking, and a great sense of pride from pursuing and completing my degree.”

McIntosh’s Air Force career saw him stationed in South Korea, Iraq, Colorado, Texas and Arizona in addition to his time in Bellevue.

“The most enjoyable part of my Air Force career was getting to meet and work alongside highly dedicated and professional people,” said McIntosh. “I am thankful for the many training opportunities I received, the superb staff I was fortunate to lead, and for the outstanding leaders I was privileged to serve. I enjoyed being stationed with my father, CMSgt James L. McIntosh (Ret.), during my first tour at Offutt Air Force Base.”

McIntosh credited his Bellevue University experience with developing the necessary skills to earn his MBA in 2008 and advance in his career.

“I believe the pursuit and attainment of my degree improved my critical thinking and communication skills while I served in the Air Force. This greatly aided my growth and development as senior leader in the Air Force. It also enabled me to enroll in and complete my master’s degree,” McIntosh said. “Ultimately, I would not be a Chief Information Officer without my undergraduate and graduate degrees.”

Interested in an IT degree from Bellevue University? Visit or call 1-800-756-7920.


Children’s Book Author Overcoming Obstacles

Posted on January 14th, 2015 by

Children’s Book Author Overcoming Obstacles

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Breaking down barriers is one of the themes author Debbie Estrem tackles in her children’s book, Sights at the Zoo. Estrem, who earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration of Technical Studies in 1999 at Bellevue University, wanted to help children understand why some people may use aids such as walkers and wheelchairs. Estrem was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2010, and hopes the book answers questions children may have.

SightsattheZoo“Children ask questions and want quick responses, which is what this book does,” Estrem said. “When doing book readings at schools, several children wanted to ride on my motorized chair or I would teach them how to drive it. It helped them to not be afraid of me or the chair. We talked about if any of them have relatives or family friends who use help to get around. Reading the book brings up the opportunity to talk about it.”

Zoo is Estrem’s second book, following Have You Ever Seen a Firefly. She collaborated with artist Kim Sponaugie on both books and published them through print-on-demand outfit Xlibris.

“I had written poems in 2003 and someone suggested that they may make a good children’s book- so once I was diagnosed with MS and not able to work anymore, I was wanting something positive to talk about- was tired of talking about my health and the MS,” Estrem said. “So, I researched how to go about writing a children’s book and started into the process.”

Estrem has four more books in the works all designed as easy reading for parents and children. She continues to bring a positive attitude toward her battle with MS as well.Debbie&Family

“It’s very challenging and so very different with each person,” she said. “We all have to fight through it and try our best to stay positive. We are all thankful for our caregivers, therapists, doctors and CNAs (certified nursing assistant).”

Estrem began attending classes at Bellevue University in 1997 after her husband was stationed at nearby Offutt Air Force Base.

“I heard commercials on the radio daily about Bellevue’s accelerated degree programs as I drove downtown to work at the YWCA every day. I had an associates degree but wanted to get my bachelor’s degree. So I checked out Bellevue University,” she explained. “My experience there was great. We were transferred to a base in Tucson, Arizona while I was still attending classes so I was able to complete my classes online. I traveled back to Bellevue for my graduation. Our daughter was in 5th grade then and I wanted her to see her Mom graduate from college.”


Alum is up for Packer Fan Hall of Fame

Posted on January 13th, 2015 by

Vote for Steve!

 Alum is up for Packer Fan Hall of Fame

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Steve Tate needs your vote. Tate, who earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration of Technical Services in 1992, has been nominated for the Green Bay Packers Fan Hall of Fame.

Tate is one of ten nominees for the Hall. Voting takes place on the Packers website through January 31st. Two winners will be announced in the spring. This is the 17th year the Packers have held the contest. Tate has been nominated five other times, but this is the first time he has been among the final 10.

“I have a good chance, but there are nine other good nominees,” Tate said.

As a native Wisconsin, Tate comes by his Packer fandom naturally.

“Growing up in Wisconsin my dad worked 6 days a week.  On Sundays, our family would go to church, come home, watch the Packers and then go out hunting,” Tate explained. “If the Packers won the farmers would be happy and let you hunt on their land.  If the Packers lost they would say no to hunting on their land most of the time.  The good news is that this was the 60s and the Packers won a lot.”

Tate had moved to Omaha in 1990 having already earned an associate’s degree.


“I had a lot of credits towards a four-year degree, but no plan on how to complete this,” he said. “I contacted the University and got an appointment to look at options.  I quickly got a game plan on how to obtain my business administration degree in a year.  It was a long year, but enjoyable one.”

Tate said his time at Bellevue University helped him refine his research abilities and improve his communication skills.

“The class was filled with working people that understood the value of an education and a strong desire to improve themselves and implement what they learned,” he added.

His degree also helped him advance his career with American Family Mutual. He was selected for a training program for computer programmers at the company shortly after earning his degree.

“I believe my degree from Bellevue University not only helped me with getting the job, but helped me apply what I learned on different levels beyond computer programming,” he said.  “I have since taken different positions within American Family Insurance from trainee, to programmer, to specialist and now into management in a few different capacities over the years.”

Tate, who now lives in De Forest, Wisconsin, is heavily involved in his community and charity work including the River Food Pantry and the Wisconsin Voice for Recovery. He’ll be taking the Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics on February 29 in Green Bay.

“I am a person in long term recovery and I enjoy giving back and trying to help others,” Tate said.

Bellevue Degree Helps Produce Hollywood Career

Posted on January 4th, 2015 by

Bellevue Degree Helps Produce Hollywood Career

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

With a bachelor’s degree in Business Information Systems you can… become a Hollywood producer.

No, seriously, you can!

Just ask Jason Panick, who earned his degree from Bellevue University in 2002, and is now a Consulting Producer on the Lifetime Reality Series Preacher’s Daughters.

“I’m really focused in the development side of production.  My on-screen credit is usually Consulting Producer, which means I play a creative role in the show as part of a larger team,” Panick explained. “Preacher’s Daughters is a reality TV show on the Lifetime Channel.  I helped creatively get the show off the ground.  Though in TV, it’s always a team effort and many people are involved in getting a show on air and keeping it there.”

Panick works as an independent contractor for ThinkFactory, a Los Angeles-based full service production company that has created programming in virtually every genre. “They are an amazing company and I’m very grateful to be working for them,” Panick said. “One of their principal owners, Adam Reed, was a friend from high school, and he is really one of the best Executive Producers in Hollywood and a great friend.  You need friends in this business because it can be pretty emotionally draining at times.”IMG_7574

A native of Bakersfield, California, Panick currently resides in Aptos, California. He first became aware of Bellevue University through online research. “I was looking for a way to finish my education in a way that fit with my career at the time, which didn’t allow me a lot of time to attend a traditional classroom setting,” he said. “Everything about Bellevue seemed to be what I was looking for as far as degree options, price, flexibility and credibility.  I decided to take the leap and give it a try and have never regretted it once.

“Bellevue was very ahead of the curve. Now everyone offers online classes, but Bellevue was doing it in a very professional way before most people were. It was actually a lot easier to focus on learning because I could set aside some time and only focus on my online courses when I needed to. I could push myself at my own pace and that really helped me stay on course.”

Following his time at Bellevue, Panick also earned a certificate in project management from Stanford University. “I feel like my Bellevue education prepared me very well,” he said. “I actually felt that the quality of education and access at Bellevue was extremely competitive with Stanford, even though Stanford has a higher profile.”

In addition to Preacher’s Daughters, Panick will have a second show hitting the airwaves in January, Big Giant Swords on the Discovery Channel. A third show is also in the works, but Panick can’t reveal details yet.

Even working in the heart of the entertainment industry, Panick isn’t caught up in the glitz.

“The entertainment industry for me isn’t glamorous; it’s a lot of hard work.  It takes a lot of persistence and teamwork to succeed.  That being said, it is very exciting to know that your ideas are part of a TV show,” he said. “My dream project would definitely be something that I helped create landing on one of the major broadcast networks.  I’d also love to get into the scripted side of TV.  Creating a sitcom would be really fun.”


Student Speaker Aims To Help Hometown

Posted on December 29th, 2014 by

Student Speaker Aims To Help Hometown

 By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Life is not a competition, but a journey to be enjoyed.  That is the message that Kindra Weston will deliver to her fellow classmates as the student speaker at Winter Commencement, Saturday, January 31, at the Mid-America Center.

“We are at a transition point in our lives, and we must allow ourselves to recognize the hard work, dedication and help that it took to get here,” said Weston, who earned her Master of Science in Clinical Counseling this past fall. “It is important to acknowledge all of the small victories that create the end result of success.”

Completing the 60-credit hour MSCC program was not an easy task.

Kindracrop“This has been a long road that truly included blood, sweat and tears,” Weston said. “I feel such a sense of self-accomplishment, confidence and pride.  I plan to utilize my degree to bring mental health services to my rural area that were not previously offered.  That is such a rewarding feeling that words do not do it justice.”

Weston, who resides in Riverton, Iowa, is currently employed at the Shenandoah Medical Center, where she completed the internship required as part of the Clinical Counseling program.

“After I completed my internship they made me a job offer,” Weston explained. “I work with children and families. I have had the guidance of a fantastic supervisor, Jan Wilson.  She has many years of experience that have enabled her to impart wisdom and expertise.”

Weston hopes to one day open her own private practice and to publish a line of play therapy and counseling books and workbooks.

Her experience at Bellevue University helped start her down that path. Weston praised the efforts of Professor Gail Ortegren, in particular. “She bent over backwards to provide guidance, wisdom and reassurance,” Weston said. “She is always positive and professional and, most importantly, approachable.  It is because of professors like this that Bellevue University will continue to flourish.  They are such a great asset to the school and our community.”

When she isn’t helping others, Weston enjoys looking for and discovering antiques.

“My husband and I spend an enormous amount of time on the road and hunting for our next treasure,” she said. “We have been able to build a fantastic network of contacts all across the country, which has been a great benefit to our business, Weston Primitive Co.  I also enjoy reading, shopping and singing.”

Master’s Degree Helps Alum Dress Up her (and your) Future

Posted on December 17th, 2014 by

Master’s Degree Helps Alum Dress Up her (and your) Future

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

2014-12-03 11.39.34

Wondering what to wear? It’s an easy decision when you’re walking across the stage to receive your diploma. It gets a bit more complicated when you’re getting ready to walk down the aisle.

That’s where Megan Goeke can help. A 2012 graduate of Bellevue University’s Master of Science in Organizational Performance program, Goeke recently opened Hello Beautiful Bridal & Formal Wear at 5012 3rd Avenue, Suite 150 in Kearney, Nebraska.

“Throughout my program, the education reinforced what I already knew as a leader and helped me develop my skill even further,” Goeke said. “Completing the MSOP program, really built my confidence in my ability to continue to perform at a higher level as I prepared to start my own business.”

Goeke became interested in the MSOP after a colleague at U.S. Cellular, her employer at the time, raved about it.

“I loved that I could apply the lessons from my classes immediately. Every course directly impacted what I was doing at work, so I could see my education immediately in action,” she said. “My professional experience provided so much context for the lessons we were learning – it made me really appreciate coming back as an ‘adult’ learner.”

Goeke praised adjunct professor Eric Hogan and his “Applied Project” course, where the business plan for Hello Beautiful began to take shape.

“Eric was so valuable because he provided critical feedback as I was constructing my business plan. This was an incredible experience, because I got to spend time working on a goal I’d carried with me since I was very young, to open a bridal shop,” she said. “While creating the business plan, I had the opportunity to do all the research I had always needed to do to understand how realistic this goal actually was.”

helloThat goal is becoming more real every day. Hello Beautiful opened in December and Goeke is planning a formal Grand Opening ceremony for late January.

“Hello Beautiful Bridal & Formal Wear is a life-long dream come true. Just like getting my Master’s degree was,” she said. “We had been eyeing a location in a high-traffic area in a growing part of the community. We wanted a large floor space which would allow us to design that incredible experience. When we walked through it, we just knew.”

Goeke said the shop is receiving dress shipments on a daily basis.

“What’s a bridal shop without incredible bridal lines? We spent a lot of time researching and networking to make sure we ended up with some really incredible dress lines,” Goeke said. “We are a full-service shop so that means we offer bridal party, mothers-of, flower girl and tuxedo styles. We are carrying prom lines and social occasion dresses too, including an awesome “Little Black Dress” wall where we’ll feature black dresses for many occasions.”

Alum Kathy Hug Takes on All Challenges

Posted on November 20th, 2014 by

Bear Hug!

Alum Kathy Hug Takes on All Challenges

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Kathy (Kent) Hug is not afraid of a challenge.

Those challenges include Associates, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, marriage and motherhood, as well as Nittany Lions, Hoosiers, and Wolverines among other things.


Hug Family Photo by Kendra Pence Photography

Currently an Assistant Athletic Director at the University of Illinois, Hug transferred into Bellevue University from Iowa Western Community College in 1994. She played volleyball for the Bruins while pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, but she quickly expanded her role within the athletic department.

“I had a non-traditional athletic path at Bellevue,” she explained. “The first two years at BU, I played volleyball.  In my third year, I played both softball and soccer. The crazy thing about it is that I was trying to stay in shape by playing indoor soccer with some of the women’s players from Bellevue and then the coach asked me if I would like to use my fifth year of eligibility and play for them.  This was also the year that softball started at Bellevue, so I was able to jump right on that team also.”

She was named Athlete of the Year for the 1996-97 academic year.

“I loved every bit of it,” she said. “I loved the rivalries and the friendships best.  Athletics is family and that is what these coaches and teammates were to me.”

She began pursuit of her Master of Business Administration during the fifth year, completing that degree in January of 2000.

“I honestly didn’t consider an MBA program until I decided to use my fifth year of athletic eligibility,” she said. “That may have been the best decision I made as I know it would have been harder to go back to school once I had been out.”

That MBA is a differentiator for Hug.

“Many people who work in athletics tend to have a sport administration degree,” she said. “Although that might be helpful in some ways, I am happy that I have the business background and a degree that helped set me up to be well rounded in my field.   I would say that the ability to manage people and organizational skills to multi-task and work budgets are my biggest assets.”

Hug worked for five years in event management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln before becoming part of the University of Illinois Athletic Department in 2002. She has been a sport administrator for men’s and women’s gymnastics, women’s basketball, women’s swimming and diving, baseball and softball and has served in event management for many sports. She has served as the NCAA Representative for tournament sites in soccer, volleyball, and softball.  Hug is currently involved in management of some of the athletic facilities and some of their construction projects.

“I have been part of some really exciting NCAA championships that I directed,” Hug said. “You don’t always get to see something from start to finish, but I have had the opportunity to do that many times.  The other thing I am most proud of is seeing some of the coaches that I helped hire and/or guide being successful and even win Big Ten or National Championships.   It’s the behind the scenes things that I am most proud of.”

Despite those accomplishments, it isn’t victories over Badgers or Boilermakers that Hug counts as her biggest wins. She has beaten breast cancer. Twice.

First diagnosed in 2006, and then again in 2009, Hug finished her last treatment in October of 2010 and has received good reports ever since. Her background as an athlete was among several factors that helped pull her through.

“I think I am a competitor in all facets.  When I was faced with breast cancer the first time in 2006, I felt that I needed to not skip a beat,” Hug said. “I had just gotten more responsibility at work, was a wife to a husband for two and a half years and a mom to a one-year old.  That in itself is a challenge, but throw in breast cancer and I tried to be superwoman and conquer it all.  I learned quickly that I couldn’t do it all, but I still tried.

“I guess the way I approached things was that I was given an obstacle in life – how I was to handle it was up to me.  I think that I didn’t lie down and quit, I was aggressive in my treatment plan and my job was to get well for my family.  So, I guess that is a good analogy – I approached my breast cancer diagnosis like an athlete would.  I worked hard, and didn’t give up.”


Hillcrest’s Bishop Earns Spot On MBJ’s 40 Under 40 List

Posted on November 14th, 2014 by

Hillcrest’s Bishop Earns Spot On MBJ’s 40 Under 40 List

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Enhancing the Lives of Aging Adults — As Chief Operating Officer for Hillcrest Health Services in Bellevue, Brendan Bishop ascribes to that motto. That commitment to service has earned him a spot on the Midland Business Journal’s annual 40 Under 40 list of promising business and professional leaders.

Brendan BishopBishop, who earned both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree at Bellevue University, was honored at the MBJ’s awards breakfast on November 14. As COO at Hillcrest, Bishop is responsible for leading the successful operating performance of all service lines owned and managed by Hillcrest Health Services.

“The job requires an in-depth understanding of how various healthcare service lines interface as a post-acute integrated system while providing leadership that results in optimization of the entire system in the aggregate,” Bishop said.

Bishop first came to Bellevue University to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Management, earning that degree in 2006. He was able to transfer in credits from several schools prior to enrollment.

“The process of transferring credits was quick and seamless,” Bishop said.

He began his career at Hillcrest in 2006 and was confident a Master of Healthcare Administration degree would help enhance his performance in the workplace and boost his career. He earned his MHA from Bellevue University in 2008.

“Bellevue University offers rigorous course content that is timely and specific to healthcare leadership,” he said. “The education also prepares individuals to have a strategic understanding of health care issues and challenges, and then positioned me for effective leadership of multidisciplinary teams.”

Balancing his education with other obligations such as work and family was challenging, but Bishop credits his support system with making it all possible.

“Balancing education and other responsibilities (e.g. family) require support, an organized schedule, managing interruptions, and learning as much as I could during the process,” he said. “Pursuit of higher education requires a dedicated, concerted effort to stay focused. I think pursuit of higher education also sends a powerful message that education is valued, encouraged, and certainly a wise investment.”


Justin Anderson Delivers Veterans Day Message

Posted on November 11th, 2014 by

Justin Anderson Delivers Veterans Day Message

By Bill Wax, Director of Communications

In his own words, retired U.S. Army Sergeant Justin R. Anderson has “been down a pretty dark road.” But he’s not dwelling on the past. “When you get knocked down eight times, you get up nine times,” Anderson told a Veterans Day 2014 audience at Bellevue University’s Military-Veterans Service Center Tuesday.

justin A 2 300ppiAnderson, a Bellevue native and 2002 graduate of Bellevue West High School, said he agreed to keynote the University’s Veterans Day observance, because he wants active-duty and former members of all branches of the military to be remembered and recognized and to know they are valued for their service to the country and their fellow citizens.

As a youth, Anderson said his dream and life plan was to “serve a 20-plus-year career in the U.S. Army…I never planned to have a wife and family. I figured if the Army wanted me to have one, they’d issue me one,” he quipped.

“He took the first step in 2001, enlisting through the Army’s delayed-entry program while still in high school. He was trained as an infantryman and his unit, the 41st Infantry Regiment, was deployed to Iraq in March 2003. In June he received a bullet wound to his left knee in combat in Bagdad. He returned to his unit but had to take a medical retirement from the military after returning home in 2004.

During the following decade, he completed B.S. in Project Management program classes from Bellevue University in 2010 and graduated from the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute, Phoenix, AZ, in 2012. He contracted and was treated for brain cancer in 2013. The cancer went into remission but recently returned. In June 2014, his left leg was amputated at the knee due to complications from the 2003 wound. Recently the cancer returned.

But Anderson, a highly decorated soldier, recipient of the Bronze Star with Valor, the Purple Heart, and numerous service ribbons, didn’t talk much about himself. Instead he focused on Veterans Day, its origin on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, the end of World War I, and he talked about other veterans, those who have served in the military in war and peacetime.

In 2013 he married to his wife, Kristen, and they have a daughter, Lylah. Now permanently disabled from his war wounds, Anderson devotes much of his free time to family, friends and motorcycles. He also accepts requests public speaking engagements at various organizations and talking to high school students. “I’m trying to pick up where our older veterans have left off, because there are not enough younger veterans willing to talk about what they’ve been through. As recently as three years ago, I wouldn’t talk about it either,” he said.

Former South Omaha Star Leads Bruin Soccer Squad

Posted on November 10th, 2014 by

Former South Omaha Star Leads Bruin Soccer Squad

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Manuel Lira experienced a matrix moment on the soccer field earlier this year.

Lira2014_WC5884The game slowed down for him as he picked out teammate Rob Smith with a perfect pass for the game-winning goal in a 2-1 overtime victory against Westminster (Utah).

“I brought down a ball and in the moment before the pass I literally talked to myself — last year or even six months ago I would have just brought that ball down and tried to take it on my own,” he said. “I’ve improved my decision making. It was at that moment that I thought to myself I would not have done this a few years ago.”

Lira came to Bellevue University after a standout prep career at South High School in Omaha. That translated to part-time starter status as a freshman and sophomore at Bellevue. Lira enjoyed a breakout season as a junior in the 2013 season. He scored eight goals and recorded five assists en route to a first team spot on the all-Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference squad.

He hasn’t missed a beat this season with eight goals and six assists through 17 matches. The Bruins are off to a 14-2-1 record in that same span.

“He’s exciting to watch because when he picks the ball up good things happen. He causes issues and everyone is worried about him defensively,” said Bruin Head Coach Matt Briggs. “He’s refined his technique a lot and really improved his decision making. You just let him express himself on the pitch and he’ll do good things for you.”

As a midfielder, Lira helps blend an eclectic group of players from all over the world into a futbol force. Lira himself originally hails from Guadalajara, Mexico. The team also features players from England, Scotland, Germany, and Columbia as well as players from the local area. So is communication difficult?

“Maybe at the beginning,” Lira said. “When some of the new guys come in and their accent is really strong – you can’t understand what they’re saying, but we spend so much time together it becomes understandable. We all bring different styles and different things we can learn from one another. That makes us even stronger as a team. The chemistry just develops as the year goes by.”

LiraManuel_2014Lira has a lot to juggle off the field. He’s majoring in Business Administration and hopes to graduate next summer. He’s the first to admit that school has not always been easy.

“It has been a major challenge for me,” he said. “Even though (the professors) are always hard on me, that teaches me more about life. I don’t want somebody doing half their job and not be on my case about turning in an assignment. It has helped me develop as a student.”

In addition to soccer and school, Lira also squeezes in time to work as a waiter at La Mesa, the Mexican restaurant located at 1405 Fort Crook Road in Bellevue, and handle family responsibilities.

“He’s wearing many hats,” Briggs said. “It’s so impressive that he’s able to be at school and be an athlete and carry on with all these other responsibilities.”

Following graduation, Lira has several options mapped out including pursuing his master’s degree and helping out at his father’s business, Deportes La Amistad, located at 4109 South L Street.

However, soccer is still at the top of his list. That means combines after the season trying to catch the eye of professional teams. While Major League Soccer is the top league in the United States, other professional leagues such as the North American Soccer League (distantly related to the NASL that featured players like Pelé and Giorgio Chinaglia in the 1970s), USL Pro, and USL Premier Development League are also options.

“I think he has a chance to go and play,” Briggs said. “If I was a coach at that level I would sign him.”

However, graduation is first and foremost.

“He’s faced many difficulties along the way,” Briggs said. “When we get him to walk for his graduation that will be better than any conference championship we can win. He’s stuck to it and he’s worked hard.”