School of Business Bulldog Profiles Archive

Connor Bos ('17) Business Finance and Administration

Before the sun sends rays through the glass surrounding Gardner-Webb's Bost Pool, Connor Bos backstrokes through the water. His 5 a.m. practices several times each week are often followed by weight-lifting sessions and studying, all before he attends his first class of the day.

The GWU junior's constant work in the pool has already helped him shine in two years of collegiate swimming. He won a Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA) championship in the 100 backstroke earlier this year, and he followed with intense training toward goals of making the U.S. Olympic Trials and the NCAA Division I nationals.

At best, swimming comes third in priorities for Bos, who puts more emphasis on his academics and utmost importance on his walk with Christ. Gardner-Webb, Bos shared, has helped him balance and correctly order what matters most in his life, now and into the future.

"When my dad saw me halfway through my freshman year at Gardner-Webb, he said, 'Your faith and spiritual walk with Christ have taken off,'" Bos remembered. "Having professors, coaches and teammates of the Christian faith around me all the time, those positive influences and discipleship mentors who get involved in my life, has been a major victory in itself."

In addition to deepening his spiritual focus, faculty and staff members at the University have allowed Bos to excel in his studies while also succeeding in the pool.

"I've had professors record lectures for me to watch later and allow me to take tests and quizzes early so I don't have to worry about learning the material and my grades when I'm away from campus for a meet," he revealed. "That's been a big help to me, and I've seen professors extend the same opportunities to other athletes time and time again. If you take the initiative, your professors will go out of their way to help you at Gardner-Webb."

In the Godbold School of Business, faculty members often take students beyond the classroom to teach and offer workplace readiness skills. Bos credits business school professor Dr. Anthony Negbenebor with providing immense opportunities for career preparation through networking with GWU alumni who now work for companies like BMW, Walmart and Duke Energy. Other mentors have allowed him to apply knowledge to reality-based learning exercises such as designing an iPhone case company and conducting a study on the impact a student's soda choice has on their GPA.

"Gardner-Webb is good at making a point of using everyday situations to give you the practice for the real world," Bos assessed. "And Coach (Mike) Simpson encourages our career preparation with the mentality that we are great students who are also a great swim team. You are a student first and an athlete second at Gardner-Webb. Coach tells us we won't be in the pool 20 years from now, but we will be working jobs and providing for our families. Having those reminders has played a role in my performance in the classroom."

Throughout the day, Bos finds times to focus on scholastics outside the classroom, too. Lunch and dinner often come with a side of books, and he finds pockets of time for studying throughout every part of his busy schedule as a student-athlete. His focus on his academic growth has led to a 4.0 GPA toward a major in both business finance and administration, a career path inspired by his father Jim, who worked his own way up the ranks to take charge of global purchasing for a technology and industrial company.

As the sun sets on days punctuated by afternoon swimming practice and additional time studying, Bos said his spiritual focus determines his success, regardless of his performance in the classroom or the water.

"If I learn nothing and do nothing faster in the pool, I'm OK with knowing that my faith in Jesus Christ has grown dramatically at Gardner-Webb," he praised. "From here, it's about where Christ wants to lead me. His plan is there, and He will help me execute it. Having a positive, uplifting environment and seeing Christ in all relationships is why I believe there's so much success at Gardner-Webb. An increased walk with the Lord: That's the biggest victory for all of us."

Gardner-Webb is good at making a point of using everyday situations to give you the practice for the real world.

Evan Rhodes ('10) Business Administration, ('12) Master of Business Administration

Before completing his Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 2012 at Gardner-Webb University, Benjamin “Evan” Rhodes was offered a job with Fastenal Company in Shelby, N.C. By the time he finished his degree, he was a top-ranking sales representative, which led to another job opportunity.

“I was recruited to fill a territory sales manager position for a family-owned flooring manufacturer called J&J Invision,” Rhodes shared. “Then, with only 14 months of industry experience, I was approached by Tandus-Centiva, a global commercial flooring manufacturer located in Dalton, Ga., to fill an account executive role covering Charlotte, N.C., and Winston-Salem, N.C.”

Rhodes is the youngest account executive in the company’s history. He calls on architect and design firms, as well as corporate, retail, government, healthcare, and education market segments. In the future, he would like to move into a corporate management. He feels the real-life experiences shared by the faculty in the Godbold School of Business helped to prepare him for the job.

“I learned from seasoned veterans who were extremely successful on a corporate level,” he observed. “The quality of my education was unparalleled. I will unequivocally say that my undergraduate and graduate years of study at Gardner-Webb were some of the best years of my life. Something I will never take for granted and something I will never forget.”

Rhodes completed his undergraduate degree in business administration in 2010 at Gardner-Webb and was involved in many activities on campus. He was a member of the Gardner-Webb wrestling team. He also served as president for Gardner Webb’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter, was an active member in Students In Free Enterprise (today known as Enactus) and was heavily involved in the Graduates in Executive Management (GEM) program. When he wasn’t busy with those organizations, he assisted the late Dr. Charles Tichenor and Dr. Earl Godfrey for work study. He also served as a graduate assistant in the Godbold School of Business while studying for his MBA.

“The best thing about Gardner-Webb was the quality of people. Everyone I met helped me discover the values of life and had a positive impact on my future,” Rhodes affirmed. “Gardner-Webb enabled me to integrate the values of faith and service within the context of rigorously preparing for a rewarding professional career. My professors and coaches wanted me to be successful in the classroom and on the wrestling mat, but more importantly, wanted me to be successful in life after college.”

Rhodes learned about Gardner-Webb when he and his coach sent highlight tapes to the University’s wrestling coaches. He also remembered hearing good reviews from athletes from his high school recruited by the University. After seeing his highlight tapes, the wrestling coaches invited him for a visit.

“As soon as I traveled for an official visit, I was hooked. The inviting campus was just the right size,” Rhodes recalled. “I also wanted to find a school where Christian faith was just as important. I felt like I could be an active part of the University and not just another number compared to other schools. I felt Gardner-Webb could be a place that I could leave my mark, as well as make lifelong friends that share the same Christian principles that I do. Gardner-Webb University was a place for me not only to obtain a degree, but it was a place to strengthen and grow my relationship with Christ.”

Gardner-Webb enabled me to integrate the values of faith and service within the context of rigorously preparing for a rewarding professional career. My professors and coaches wanted me to be successful in the classroom and on the wrestling mat, but more importantly, wanted me to be successful in life after college.

Kyeonta "Keon" Williams, Jr. ('14) Economics and Finance

Football brought Kyeonta “Keon” Williams Jr. (’14) to Gardner-Webb in 2010 for a visit, but a business professor convinced him to stay.

“I was offered a full-scholarship to be a student-athlete,” the Runnin’ Bulldogs cornerback recalled. “I chose to attend Gardner-Webb shortly after hearing Dr. Anthony Negbenebor’s presentation during my official visit. Negbenebor (dean emeritus and professor of economics and international business in Godbold School of Business) discussed how the institution intertwines faith and academics, which my family and I felt was a competitive advantage.”

Once he began his studies at GWU, Williams found Negebenebor’s statements to be true. Along with playing football, he learned business concepts crucial to his career and participated in a variety of campus organizations, including the Student Government Association, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Students in Free Enterprise (Enactus) and French Club.

“Gardner-Webb gave me the opportunity to become involved with Career Athletes (Athlete Network) during my freshman year, which led to obtaining a Top 10 Internship with Northwestern Mutual,” Williams offered. “The experience of playing collegiate football helped fuel a sense of leadership and team spirit, which is vital in corporate America. The curriculum of the Godbold School of Business helped mold me into a responsible professional. Most importantly, my experience at the Godbold School of Business gave me a sense of moral discernment and ethical awareness that is needed for a career in an industry plagued by conflicts of interest.”

He was impressed with the caliber of the GWU faculty and their constant pursuit of knowledge. Negbenebor stood out because of his teaching style.

“He went above and beyond my expectations. He integrated the three main cognitive learning styles into our course study which helped me tremendously: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic,” Williams observed. “As a result, I was able to learn and retain complex theories and concepts that are beneficial for me today. For instance, Dr. Negbenebor would ask ‘What is economics?’ at the beginning of every lecture, and the class would answer ‘Economics is the study of how you and I allocate scarce resources given certain restrictions to maximize our wants and needs.’”

In his job as an investment adviser representative, Williams creates and implements investment strategies for retail investors. He also had an opportunity to attend the China Europe International Business School’s (CEIBS) 2015 Shanghai boot camp, where nearly 70 participants from around the world heard lectures from well-known professors, visited the offices of multinational companies and engaged in various career-development activities. During his experience in China and since receiving his degree, he has come to appreciate the value of having the faculty of the Godbold School of Business share their real-world experiences.

“The faculty is accessible and hands-on with their approach given the University’s focused class size. It is important for an individual to get to know the story of who’s leading their journey through higher education,” Williams suggested. “Many of our faculty have served in executive roles and conducted business efforts around the world. Globalization is the prime focus of business now, so it is important to have insight pertaining to other parts of the world. The diversity within the faculty gives students the opportunity to collect first-hand accounts about the nature of business and the interconnectedness of emerging markets and Europe with the U.S.”

Gardner-Webb gave me the opportunity to become involved with Career Athletes (Athlete Network) during my freshman year, which led to obtaining a Top 10 Internship with Northwestern Mutual. The experience of playing collegiate football helped fuel a sense of leadership and team spirit, which is vital in corporate America. The curriculum of the Godbold School of Business helped mold me into a responsible professional.