Passing the torch

Jim Schmidt

“Creating champions on the field is one thing, but our focus is to create champions for life and this program will help us achieve that mission,” UIC Athletic Director Jim Schmidt says.

UIC Athletics has launched a new program: Pass the Torch, aimed at assisting student-athletes in preparing for a professional life after college.

The initiative pairs Flames upperclassmen with a variety of professionals who attended UIC or are associated with the athletic department.

“Pass the Torch aligns perfectly with our goals,” UIC athletic director Jim Schmidt said.  “Creating champions on the field is one thing, but our focus is to create champions for life and this program will help us achieve that mission.”

The program includes 22 student-athletes and their mentors, whose expertise covers a range of industries. They meet  monthly and attend program seminars that focus on skill sets such as résumé building, networking, interviewing and financial planning.

“I can’t begin to express how excited I am for this program,” current mentor and former UIC hockey player Steve Smart said.

“I was fortunate enough to have had mentors when I was in college and it essentially launched my career.  I have seen the benefits of these relationships and I feel very passionate about being involved with Pass the Torch.”

Smart is paired with soccer player Pitor Lagowski and the duo have set aside time each week for a 45-minute phone call.

“It’s great to have someone you can talk to about your professional life and not just about athletics,” Lagowski said.

Lagowski is majoring in finance, with an interest in entering the business world after graduation.

“A program like this could be the next step on my way to becoming a professional,” Lagowski said.  “It’s a step that I didn’t have before and I think it will be great for all who take advantage of it.”

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