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The life of a Rutgers student-athlete today can be a year-round job, leaving little time to grow outside the classroom or off the field. When David Bugen RC’70, RBS’72 and Phil Scalo RC’75, NLAW’78 learned about Life Skills, a new program to help student-athletes, Rutgers to develop personally and professionally, the two men found it worthy of a generous donation. “We ask so much of the athletes,” Bugen says. “But, we also have to make an opportunity for them to develop skills so they can succeed in life.”

Life Skills helps student-athletes with decisions large and small, from buying car insurance to preparing for a job interview to managing finances. Leading the program is Shawn Tucker RC’06, a former football team captain recently hired as assistant athletic director for student-athlete development. The program, which will be funded by private donations, has raised more than $1.5 million, with a goal of $2.5 million.

Life Skills already has organized a leadership conference, attended by captains of all Scarlet Knights teams, and Knight of Networking, an event for alumni to meet student-athletes to discuss job prospects in their fields. “There are so many Rutgers alumni,” says Scalo, the CEO of Jackson, New Jersey-based Bartley Healthcare, which owns and operates health care facilities for seniors. “The network to help people should be phenomenal.”

Bugen, a founder of Regent Atlantic Capital, a wealth management firm in Morristown, New Jersey, would like to see more alumni mentors. “Sixty percent of corporate CEOs were athletes in college,” Bugen says. “It says something about leadership skills. Rutgers has such highly successful alumni. I’m not sure they all recognize the opportunity to give back to students.”

Originally published in Rutgers alumni magazine. Photography by Nick Romanenko.

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