Oct. 18, 2013
When two-time All-Patriot League running back Nick Campanella (Roselle, Ill./Montini Catholic) was looking for a summer internship prior to his senior season on the Hilltop, he did not need to go far for advice or guidance.
Campanella, a Patriot League Academic Honor Roll member, completed the application process and then only needed to walk to the football offices in McDonough Arena to figure out what his next step should be.
"It started off that I applied for an internship with Mercer," Campanella said about finding the human resource and financial services consulting firm. "When I found out that I got the interview, I talked to (Assistant Head) Coach (Rob) Sgarlata, because he seems to know everyone. Coach Sgarlata contacted Ataefiok Etukeren and then gave me his information. I reached out to him and he was more than happy to help."
For Etukeren it was an opportunity to give back through a Georgetown football mentorship program that helped him get established after his tenure on the Hilltop.
In September of 2009, Ataefiok Etukeren was released by the Buffalo Bills after spending his summer in training camp. He spent a few months working out in the hope of making another roster, but by January he had started to look toward the next step in his life.
Without a job, he returned to Washington, D.C., where he struggled to find his way into the corporate world. That was when Jim Lenihan (MSB '04) reached out to help. Etukeren was so grateful for the help that he promised himself that when he became established he would make sure and do the same.
"Jim Lenihan graduated a few years before I went to Georgetown and he helped me in my early career get to where I am at Mercer," Etukeren said of the former Gridiron Club President. "When I spoke with him about getting started in the corporate environment he had loads of information and helped me get to where I am today. I just wanted to be able to do the same thing."
This past summer, Etukeren started with Campanella, giving him insights into the company where he had spent nearly three years.
"Ataefiok had helped me prepare for my first interview and then I contacted him for my second," Campanella remembers. "It was great, he helped me prepare for dealing with some of the tougher questions that I faced, in my opinion. It was just a good experience."
Campanella finished his internship at Mercer in time to be back on the field when the Hoyas opened training camp in early August. Though when he returned he had a summer of experience in the corporate world, giving him a sneak preview, as to what life after Georgetown may be like.
"Nick got an experience working in the corporate environment," Etukeren said. "Seeing how things are done on a day-to-day basis, he can take that with him into any job or industry he may want to go."
It will be something for Campanella to think about as the May graduation approaches. Though for now, Campanella still has five Patriot League football games left in his career, as he continues to climb the Georgetown career rushing touchdown list. He is currently tied for fifth with John Burke with 18 career touchdowns. For his career prospects, Campanella may not follow in the exact footsteps of Etukeren, but he does want to be able to reach back to campus and help future Georgetown football players.
"I'm not too sure exactly what I want to do yet," Campanalla said. "I'm still trying to figure it out, but I know I want to work in the business world," I definitely want to be able to come back and help student-athletes in the Georgetown football program. It's a family atmosphere and the alumni has been very helpful. They've been through the grind of being a student-athletes and know what we go through on a daily basis, so now that I've been through it, it makes me want to come back and help the next generation."
The mentorship program has continued to thrive as alums through several generations of Georgetown football have been glad to extend a hand back to the Hilltop and help the younger generation. Former quarterback Scott Darby (MSB '11) wisely used advice from established football alums like Peter Hornick and Robert Lenihan to land a job with Nomura Securities. Former All-Patriot League cornerback Jayah Kaisamba (MSB '11) returned home to Dallas, Texas with help from Reid Wakefield, to land a job with Century Interactive, while continuing to pursue football opportunities.