technical school. With nearly 4,000 students almost evenly divided between undergraduate and gradu- ate students, SU offers a blend of liberal arts education with career preparation through about 150 aca- demic programs in seven schools. According to the university,

81 percent of its 2017 graduates are employed or furthering their education, and those who are working reported a median salary of $52,000. Next year, the university plans

to tap into fast-growing and lucra- tive industries with new majors in e-sports and virtual-reality design. SU programs are varied. They

include, for example, musical theater, criminal justice, business administration and the health professions. Last year, the univer- sity expanded a partnership with Inova Health Systems to launch graduate-level programs at a new campus in Fairfax County. Admission to the highly

ranked Shenandoah Conservatory is by audition only.

Back from Broadway Kevin Covert, an assistant

theater professor who grew up in Winchester, was startled by what he found at Shenandoah when he returned to his hometown after a career on Broadway. Covert, who saw the school as

“just a conservatory” when he was growing up, left Winchester in 1988 for Florida State University. On Broadway, he appeared in “Spamalot,” “Memphis” and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” After “How to Succeed”

closed, he decided to try some- thing different and went to Flor- ida State for an adjunct position. “I fell in love with teaching,”

he says. “I fell in love with watch- ing the students and their desire to get better. I even thought to myself, ‘I remember this. I remem- ber all of the hope and none of the cynicism that comes with living in New York.’”

Kevin Covert, an assistant theater professor, grew up in Winchester. He was surprised how much the university had changed when he returned to his hometown.

So, when a friend sent him

a link for a teaching job at SU, it seemed “kind of kismet.” Touring the campus during

the job interview was like seeing the school for the first time, says Covert, who is in his third year at the university. “Once you come here and

look at the campus and the area surrounding the university and meet the faculty, you’ll be sold,” he says. “There’s a real dedication to care here.”

‘Try different things’ Nonetheless, it took about a

semester for Shenandoah’s ameni- ties and opportunities to take hold for James Turner, a junior from Manassas who is president of the Student Government Association. “My first impression wasn’t

very good, actually,” he says. Dur- ing his first semester, he recalls, all he did was go to class until a faculty member advised him to get involved. Now, Turner gives similar

advice to others. “This is the time you want to step out of your comfort zone and try different things,” he says, and at SU “all those opportunities are right in front of you.”

Turner lists a few:

• experiential learning oppor- tunities such as trips to events where sports manage- ment students help with game-day logistics for media credentials, corporate suites and team travel schedules.

• internships such the one he had last summer with an auditing firm in Reston.

• and his visit to Pittsburgh to meet with the Steelers marketing department. One other experience that

Turner would like to try is the Global Citizens Project, an expense-paid, study-abroad trip for 50 to 60 students, faculty and staff members who are selected for the program based on their essays. Their destinations are not revealed until the winners are announced at a school assembly. Turner, a business administra-

tion major who also is president of the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, was recruited to play football at SU but found that time commitment interfered with other goals. “I kind of chose my career

over football,” he says. “I no longer play, but I fell in love with the school, so I stuck around.” VIRGINIA BUSINESS 75

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