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Back-to-School Month Words of Encouragement from Esports Coach, Jordan Whitaker

Back-to-School Month Words of Encouragement from Esports Coach, Jordan Whitaker

NOVA Esports Head Coach Jordan Whitaker brings years of experience to NOVA, and he is an active advocate, helping students thrive in esports and their educational journeys. After obtaining his masters from William & Mary and serving as a federal contractor for seven years, he has pursued his passions and launched a career in gaming and coaching. Here are some words of encouragement as he welcomes students back to NOVA.

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I am half Filipino and grew up in Africa, living in Sudan, Ethiopia, Mali and Mozambique for over ten of my primary years, as both of my parents worked for the State Department. I then went to high school, primarily in Europe, but also in the Northern Virginia area for a little bit.

After high school, I went to Syracuse University thinking I was going to work for the government like my parents, as I was interested in national security. I graduated from Syracuse with a bachelor’s in political science. Afterward, I went to William & Mary, obtaining my master’s in public policy, with a specialization in national security and defense. Afterwards, I had a seven-year career doing supply chain risk management for the federal government, working with the military and intelligence agencies.

In 2019, I started to embrace my passions more and considered a career in esports and competitive gaming. At the time, I was in the top 0.65% of players in North America in League of Legends. So I made the decision to act on my dreams and began to work as an esports coach at NOVA.

Just this year, on March 28, my wife and I welcomed our first child, named Theodore. My wife and I met teaching karate together here in Fairfax for Kaizen MMA. We taught summer camps a long time ago. Some of my family is in the area as well. My dad recently retired and lives in Washington, D.C., and my sister lives in College Park, Maryland with her 1-year old and her husband. It’s great these two kids have the opportunity to grow up together.

What brought you to NOVA?

I got the opportunity to come in as an assistant coach here at NOVA for League of Legends. I really enjoyed it. COVID happened, and then the previous esports director left, so I became the head coach for League of Legends and one of the two esports program coordinators.

In just this past year, I started developing esports courses for academic institutions, starting with Syracuse University, where I will also serve as an adjunct professor. I will also begin serving as an adjunct professor for George Mason University in the Spring of 2023. I will be teaching three classes across those two institutions.

Of course, I will continue to coach here at NOVA to be a part of the esports action. The college scene is so exciting and immense. The scene is very much like mainstream college sports, right now. I love being around students and I thoroughly enjoy helping them, not only with their gaming, but their academic and professional success as well.

I am also an advisor for an international gaming company called Earn.Games, and I founded and manage an esports program for the Leysin American School in Switzerland, a boarding school my sister and I both attended. It would be pretty cool to serve as an adjunct professor here at NOVA in political science or esports, too.

What has been your experience working with students at NOVA?

One of the great assets I am able to bring in my work here at NOVA is that I have had a professional career prior to this. So, I am able to really help students progress with their future goals. I love writing letters of reference, helping students tailor their resumes, prepare for interviews, and generally develop as young professionals. One of the things I enjoy is offering students the opportunity to work alongside me and for the esports program, which engages students with the community and gives them access to volunteer experience. This opportunity for professional development is so important for our younger students here at NOVA. I love the fact that I and many others can offer professional development as a part of the experience.

For instance, Lana Vanta, who is now a NOVA alumna, was previously our community events manager, serving as a student volunteer for the esports program. She then went on to Mason and sought me out to mentor her. I want to say I am really proud of her as she’s doing really cool stuff with the Philippine government and other high-level public officials. It’s a testament to the success you can find here at NOVA – when you find people who care about your experience and you are able to leverage your resources toward your goals, success comes naturally.

I have a lot of respect and admiration for my counterpart, Head Coach and Esports Program Coordinator John O’Neil. He is an amazing leader in our community, and always does such a great job for NOVA and the students. He works with high school kids, too, and helps people learn about their opportunities in college and esports.

What would you tell an incoming NOVA student?

I would tell them to take advantage of all the resources here at NOVA. The gaming community and education community are so large. If you identify an individual who is working in an area that interests you, write that person an email and introduce yourself and your interests. You’d be surprised who can make a substantial impact in your life. As you take the steps in your education and along your career, continue to network and meet people who inspire and motivate you.

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest public institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls nearly 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield (Medical Education Campus) and Woodbridge, through NOVA Online and high school dual enrollment. We offer more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs to help our students reach their academic and professional goals through university transfers and access to the most in-demand careers. At NOVA, we strive to ensure that every student succeeds, every program achieves and every community prospers. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, visit our website, www.nvcc.eduor call 703.323.3000.

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