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April 15, 2016

New mentor program links students with pros

Since he was just a kid, Michael Tolvo has wanted to work in professional sports in some capacity. As an FGCU Athletics intern he has written media releases and compiled game previews aplenty for a variety of sports. But he truly made his mark in 2014 with a series of videos featuring student-athletes — like the 6-foot-11 hoops player who appeared to stand a good couple of feet taller than his interviewer. Tolvo gamely stood in the paint as the lanky Eagle vaulted over his head and dunked the ball.

“The videos were a way to get people to see the personality of the athletes off the field or court,” says the junior from Deland.

They also were a way to show potential employers his own personality and communication skills — with some comedy chops thrown in as a bonus. Tolvo will likely produce more fodder for his video reel this summer when he works with the Fort Myers Miracle baseball team — a gig he scored through the FGCU Alumni Association’s new Eagle Mentor Program.

The program pairs FGCU students with successful professionals who commit to providing meaningful work experience, career information and personal coaching that helps prepare Eagles for success after graduation. About 20 mentors have already committed to the fledgling program, including alumni in fields that include physical therapy, film, insurance and technology.

“We’ve had a lot of interest from students who want to learn more about a profession and make sure they’re on the right track,” says Alumni Relations Director Kimberly Wallace (’06, Communication; ’09 Master’s, Counseling). “We are working to identify more mentors to meet the high demand.”

Areas of highest interest include law, medicine, information technology, entrepreneurship, business management, finance and nonprofits. If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, more information is available online or through the Alumni Relations Office, 239-590-1035.

Miracle President Steve Gliner is not an alum, but he got his own foot in the ballpark gate as an upstate New York college student by persistently approaching the Albany-Colonie Yankees AA farm team for an internship. His pitch eventually worked — and led to a nearly 30-year career in the administrative side of professional baseball.

“Somebody gave me an opportunity 29 years ago, and I’ve always wanted to give back,” Gliner says. “When I look at Michael, I see myself 29 years ago. I invited him in for a chat, to find out what drives him and if there was anything we could do to give him some experience. We found out he had a lot of interest in areas we wanted to expand, like social media and video. He’s a really energetic kid.”

Gliner, whose oldest son is an FGCU freshman, learned about the new mentoring program through a former Miracle staffer who started as an intern and who graduated from FGCU. Ashley Adams (‘14, Communication) recently moved on to the Durham Bulls in North Carolina, but she helped strengthen the Miracle’s internship program, Gliner says.

As for Tolvo, Gliner’s insider wisdom and guidance should help him strengthen his game plan for a career in sports management.

“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for students to get involved in the community and get to know people they might aspire to be like,” he says.