Follow the leaders: Marcus Raven
The start of something big
While other seniors were having graduation invitations printed and working on résumés last spring, Marcus Raven was handing out Arlington Chamber of Commerce business cards and compiling information for strategic initiatives.
Raven is almost spokesman-like in singing UT Arlington's praises. As part of the first Goolsby graduating class, he stands behind everything he says.
"Infinite opportunities," the 2006 graduate says of his alma mater. "The diversity of people, cultures, fields of study and student organizations on campus affords students a unique chance to explore so many different things and become informed and knowledgeable in various aspects of life."
Raven was not your traditional straight-out-of-high school student when he arrived on campus. He already had significant work experience.
Still, he craved a college degree—specifically through Goolsby— because he wanted to build a strong professional network. The academy gave him that, he says, and more.
Because he received scholarship money, he could work fewer hours and devote more time to academics in the Honors College and extracurricular activities like Beta Gamma Sigma business honors society and the Latin American Student Organization. He also participated in Project GO, an organization that educates on social, economic and political issues affecting urban areas.
He took courses from professors who normally teach graduate and doctoral students and met corporate executives who are leaders in their industries. He thrived on being around similarly charged students, with whom he maintained a friendly but intense rivalry.
The internship gave him a leg up on graduates who were not in the academy, he says.
His initial position with the Chamber of Commerce required him to find data that was both timely and relevant to Arlington's business community. He prepared materials to be distributed to companies interested in locating to Arlington. In his new job, he's responsible for the effective organization and administration of member services and programs.
"The Goolsby Leadership Academy is an outstanding initiative, matching promising business students with employers for real-world experiences," says chamber President Wes Jurey. "It further enabled us to evaluate Marcus, resulting in him joining the chamber staff, where he has become an integral part of our team."
In addition to professional advancement, Raven says he grew personally in the Goolsby Leadership Academy. He made connections with people that have extended beyond the classroom.
He advises to never underestimate the caliber of students walking around on campus. "Think about it: How would you like to be the person who sat next to Bill Gates his junior year at Harvard and never bothered to say hello or ask him what his aspirations were?"
With a grip on the business world and a strong sense of self, Raven plans to expand his horizons. He's starting a clothing business called Authentic Agape Apparel (www.authenticagape.com), a fashion line that incorporates scripture-based symbolism.
"Ultimately, I want to be able to create a conglomerate of businesses that foster environments that are conducive to spiritual growth and development," he says, "so each and every person we meet has the opportunity to fulfill the purpose for which they were created."
Raven is grateful to the Goolsby Academy and its benefactors, John and Judy Goolsby, for his early success. He calls the couple the embodiment of the academy's mantra, "Integrity…Courage…Impact."
It's a creed he seeks to follow in every aspect of his life.
— Camille Rogers