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Bill Rogers, a 34-year old Angelo State University graduate student from Liberia, has been selected to receive the 2020 Nelson Mandela Freedom Award from the Chicago-based We Dream in Color Foundation.
Named for the late Nobel Peace Prize winner, the Nelson Mandela Award honors exemplary leaders who serve as a vital force for positive change in their communities. Rogers is being honored for his efforts on behalf of disadvantaged youths in Liberia through his Bill Rogers Youth Foundation. He empowers the young people of his country by encouraging them to participate in athletics, organizing education and agriculture programs, and providing access to safe drinking water in rural communities. His foundation has also provided exposure for talented Liberian athletes by connecting them with various scholarship programs in the U.S.
“It has been my dream to go back and help my country,” Rogers said. “After 14 years of civil conflict, the young people of Liberia have not been incorporated back into society. I feel like it’s the responsibility for someone to oversee strategic programs to help them. Many people helped me along the way, and now it’s my goal to return it to the next generation through sport.”
Currently enrolled in ASU’s coaching, sport, recreation and fitness administration (CSRF) master’s degree program, Rogers has also impressed his fellow students and professors.
“When Bill interviewed to join our program,” said Dr. Warren Simpson, CSRF program director, “I found him to be a unique individual with incredible experiences, impressive professionalism and a great desire to learn and help others. I knew right away he was a perfect fit for the CSRF grad program.”
How Rogers got to ASU is a remarkable story. Growing up during the 14-year Liberian Civil War, he was kidnapped when he was seven years old, beaten and stabbed, and had two of his toes cut off. He was taken to the hospital by strangers and barely survived the operations that saved his life.
Not long after, a group of professional track and field athletes ran through his town, with Rogers eagerly running alongside them. Encouraged by their coach to pursue athletics, Rogers excelled and eventually became a world-class distance runner. He placed at the 2001 World Youth Track and Field Championships in Hungary and was a double medal winner at the 2004 African Athletic Championships in Benin, West Africa. That same year, he was selected for the Liberian Olympic Team, and he later competed at the 2007 IAAF World Cross Country Running Championship in Kenya. At one time, he held the Liberian national record in the 1,500 meters.
“I believe that the power of sport has transformed my life,” Rogers said. “After they chopped me and left me in the bush to die, I used the power of sport to crush my barriers, and now here I am in a master’s degree program at ASU. I want the young people of my nation to see my story and be inspired to reconnect with their people and families.”
Meanwhile, Rogers has also continued pursuing his education. He became a certified athletic trainer in Kenya in 2003, and was later accepted to El Camino College in El Paso. He went on to earn an athletic scholarship to Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, where he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology-human performance in 2009.
Former Huston-Tillotson professor, Dr. Doris McCabe, now an associate professor of kinesiology at ASU, invited Rogers to speak to one of her ASU classes and encouraged him to apply to ASU’s CSRF program while he was on campus. He is scheduled to graduate with his Master of Education degree in December 2021.
Rogers was slated to receive his Nelson Mandela Freedom Award in July at the annual We Dream in Color Humanitarian Celebration in Chicago, but the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the We Dream in Color Foundation is now partnering with the Liberian government to plan a reception and award ceremony for Rogers in Liberia in November.
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Angelo State University has been named one of the nation’s “Great Colleges to Work For” for 2020 by ModernThink, and has been recognized in a special edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education, the major national news source for college and university faculty and administrators.
ASU is one of only 79 institutions of higher education recognized nationally by ModernThink and also ranked highly enough to be one of only 42 institutions named to the 2020 Honor Roll. This marks the sixth straight year ASU has made both the “Great Colleges to Work For” list and the Honor Roll.
campus this fall, their efforts were absolutely fantastic. That our employees remain dedicated to our students and also truly enjoy working at ASU is a prime example of why we call ourselves the Ram Family.”ASU President Ronnie Hawkins Jr. said, “This year in particular, we all got to see how exceptional our faculty and staff are, as they went above and beyond to continue to serve our students in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. From shifting to online classes in just two weeks to installing all the safety equipment and protocols so we could return to
“This is a recognition that should make everyone proud at Angelo State University,” said Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D., chancellor of the Texas Tech University System. “Offering a values-based culture across the institution has made Angelo State a desirable destination for faculty, staff and administrators. By establishing career growth and development, leadership opportunities and an enjoyable workplace, ASU is the gold standard for creating a thriving campus environment.”
The “Great Colleges to Work For” designation is based upon surveys conducted earlier this year of more than 50,000 employees at 221 colleges and universities nationally. Angelo State was one of seven Texas four-year institutions to earn the designation, one of only two Texas state-supported universities to be honored, and the only Texas state-supported university to make the Honor Roll. ASU was previously identified as one of the nation’s “Great Colleges to Work For” in 2009, 2013 and 2015-19.
The ModernThink survey evaluates employee satisfaction in 12 categories in four general areas: leadership, the workplace, careers and compensation. Its two-part assessment process includes an institutional audit of demographics and workplace policies, as well as the survey of faculty, staff and administrators, with employee feedback being the primary factor. ASU was recognized in 11 of the 12 categories.
ASU Human Resources Director Kurtis Neal said, “The leadership, commitment and hard work displayed by our employees on a daily basis create an amazing campus experience. The way everyone pulled together this year to make the campus safe for students to return for the fall semester was just outstanding. To earn the ‘Great College to Work For’ designation and make the Honor Roll for a sixth straight year is definitely something for the campus to brag about.”
Additionally, Neal said the broader national exposure for ASU that comes with the recognition will enhance the university’s ability to recruit high-quality faculty, staff and administrators. ASU currently has 977 employees, including 415 faculty and 562 staff.
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Visit Look For New Clients When You’re At Your Best – Ultimate Upwork Freelance Advice for the whole story
Longevity isn’t long for freelancers who work fast and know what they are doing.
Conversely if clients are likely to remove you once they are doing well, what value does pay for performance bring?
This is the first entry of a series on being a freelancer.
It seems like, and I agree it makes little sense, but when your work, over several months has lead to the best possible outcome for the client and you’ve begun meeting and exceeding their goals, be ready for it to end. Now in SEO the projects are never ending, there are always more things that can be done. But as your work bears fruit you may want to look out and start interviewing new clients.
Examples I’ve experienced: In 2019 after working together for several months in increasingly important roles a client who was contracting 100% of my time. (Note…rule #1 never give 100% of your time. You can be gone in an instant and you’ll have no income till you replace this client, and you’re unlikely to find another one asking for all your time, leaving you in a state of crisis seeking multiple clients.).
The client had evolving monthly goals that often spanned off-project. This sea of half finished gigs had to be completed or the projects would fail and while he had said to “pause” this project … I’d have to keep it going anyhow. Keep in mind if an unfinished project imploded I worried I’d be the one holding the grenade. This fever of activity was good though, but just as my work delivered a 1200% increase in search traffic to his site.
I received a call one afternoon as I drove down the expressway after visiting the doctors office. My client, called literaly yelling at me saying he didn’t know why he needed me and I was out like that. I think it had somewhat to do with me not being at my desk maybe or the fact I had missed an email to my personal account from his dad either way, the situation was obviously a problem. Especially since at that time he had been paying me to hire a couple assistants to work arttime with me.
My contract was suspended, blocking me from billing any hours before I got home. I even had some time I had worked that wasn’t billed yet but that was blocked. The same client had just given me a bonus and a new project just a month before, but now the value I brought was questioned. That project was to turn around their brand’s domain traffic on Google.
I was put on the project in late Apr and let go in late May. At that time 1 month traffic was up 1200% and it had never been better, and it hasn’t been as good since.
The best I can tell you is that when your clients reaches all a big boom in sales and traffic you wont be earning a pat on the back, unless its a pat to the door. Now you still need to make these awesome wins, just don’t mistake the scene as time to celebrate with them. You aren’t them and they may even claim it was their own efforts.
I think its important and this is especially true in SEO, since you don’t produce a physical object that they can see and touch its especially important to produce reports and explain your value. Now that hasn’t actually mattered, in this next example the reports were often discounted as just wrong.
See be weary of the client whos “an expert” in your field. They are dangerous…they lack the knowledge that they aren’t an expert. If they were so great why wouldn’t they just be an SEO Consultant? Why hire you? How could results be better after you joined the team?
Client SEO Experts are generally the enemy of their own goals and sites. With unfounded confidence they can work to undo what you’ve orchestrated in a matter of minutes. They constantly second guess you, and you may find yourself screaming.
I know I was when I shared that the site had record traffic, to be met with the sky was falling and monthly graphs emailed out proclaiming all you’d done wasn’t effective. In that case I had to point out that the month graphs included the current month we were a week into….and for that reason, yes, there was a drop in traffic due to the lack of the month being complete.
Taken For Granted When Things Go Well
I started with a site that migrated to a new site in August. I had 301 redirected their backlinks and ensured proper page load times but early on I had to question the new sites user experience. What they sold wasn’t even on the homepage. The were so obsessed with showing the location of all their stores they neglected to realize the average web visitor doesn’t care how many stores you have, or where all those stores are they care where the closest store to them is and thats it. Showing them 8 or so other irrelevant locations intermixed with the 1 you want is a disservice.
And I don’t mean it was listed with other stores I mean a sea of images, phone icons with numbers and Google maps for each store. It was too much and the user data showed it. But over the course of the next 3 or 4 months I convinced them to allow me to make a blog for their site.
They said they already had one and it was at xyz.com. I noted that their main site was abc.com so xyz.com wasn’t doing them any favors with keywords or establishing content to draw in visitors. After only two months their keywords had more than doubled and their traffic was the highest it had ever been in November, then even higher again in December.
By mid January I had all my access cut to and was tiold we did work on a project basis and the project was over. Luckily this time I had kept the client at about 1/4 of my business. Sadly though when mentioning the performance they said it might have been their own efforts. Deja Vu! Traffic was never better, keywords were expanding like wild fire and I’d seen the site past a poorly executed multi-domain strategy and PPC strategy which both cannebalized organic SEO and now it wasn’t even my victory.
Moral of the story, you are NOT an employee. They are NOT your friend and you’re gone when the problem is deemed fixed so at your high moments, start shopping for a replacement.
- Never let one client dominate your schedule, once they leave they leave you empty.
- Watch out for client experts in your field. They’ll be the downfall of everything.
- When things look great, start interviewing clients.
SEO WordPress Optimization
Initial success was quick to be realized in optimization of the sites images, the addition of a CDN network, html compression and image compression. After this first phase the site was loading at about 5 seconds on average.
This meant the site was loading in less than half as long as before but still almost twice as long as our three second goal. In reviewing what we had to do we identified three areas that we felt encompases a site’s speed.
I. Content – animations, js, css, images, video files
These are the basics that every site should have in place by default. Rarely does a new client have all of these in place.
II. Site Optimization – compression, software versions, CDN
Adding Content Delivery Network or CDN as an optimization. While a CDN is infrastructure its not required for a site to function but servers to improve the delivery of content, so for our purposes it is an optimization.
III. Server and Networking Infrastructure – host hardware,
Content For SEO Speed
Speed is important to SEO ranking. It’s incredibly important with mobile users which now out number desktop users on Google’s search engine. Google has an initiative called Mobile First and its title makes it obvious what they want to see from sites.
In previous tests we’ve seen a visible bump caused by a site’s speed performance. This was observed with at least 3 sites that were first on shared hosting, then given a dedicated VPS server.
Leaving behind the animations and scrollers is an easy thing for an SEO to advocate but it’s sometimes those elements that drive the site’s conversion rates. Content that’s rich in only text may be great for Google but it isn’t the best way to present yourself to future clients. Our goal was to minimize animation but leave content largely intact.
We also worked to resolve site errors and broken links within the content.
Only online master’s degrees offered by regionally accredited, nonprofit colleges and universities were eligible for the rankings. Each was evaluated on program strength and reputation, online delivery, flexibility, cost, return on investment and student engagement – and then assigned a grade on a 0-100 scale.
Angelo State’s top online master’s degree national rankings and grades in their respective disciplines include:
Each of the ASU degrees also received a supplemental designation, including:
- M.Ed. in guidance and counseling – “Intelligent Pick”
- M.S. in global security studies – “Most Affordable”
- M.S. in homeland security – “Best Public University”
- M.Ed. in educational administration – “Most Affordable”
- M.S.N.–Family Nurse Practitioner – “Best State School”
- M.S. in criminal justice – “Best Public University”
- M.S. in professional school counseling – “Best in the South”
Additionally, ASU’s College of Graduate Studies and Research has been ranked No. 14 in the U.S. by Intelligent.com as one of the “Top 50 Most Affordable Online Master’s Programs.”
ASU offers 16 online master’s degrees, as well as two additional master’s degrees that can be completed in a hybrid online/in-class format. Ten online graduate certificate and certification programs are also available. More details can be found at angelo.edu/online-degrees.
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