Everyone has a dream job. No matter what age, major or profession, everyone dreams of holding a job completely different from the path they have chosen. For some, it is a thoracic surgeon; for others, an astronaut; and still others, an opera singer. Many people never come close to experiencing these vocations, and can only imagine what life would be like if they ever had the chance. But every once in a while, someone with the resources will extend a hand to those who only dreams of doing that job. For 10-year-old Daquan Gardner, his dream job recently became a brief reality with the help of two seasoned members of Villanova’s WXVU staff.
Last Tuesday night, the basketball court lights were bright but not as bright as 10-year-old Daquan Gardner’s eyes as he approached the Pavilion on Nov. 25 to attend the basketball game against Monmouth. Crowds of people filed toward the stadium, fueling Daquan’s excitement as he neared the entrance. For Villanova, it was to be a low-key game the night before holiday break. For Daquan, it was a night to remember for the rest of his life. It was the night of Dream Job.
Rewind three months to the beginning of the fall semester. Rewind three months of hard work, phone calls, planning, scheduling and reviewing.
Rewind to the opening orientation of the sophomore Service and Learning Community, where second-year students live out the Augustinian values of community, love, and truth through service to the greater Philadelphia area.
Two of these students are Nick Esposito and Michael Bobich. Not only do the two share a love of service; they also share a love of sports broadcasting, demonstrated by their tenure on the WXVU rotation since their freshman year. Their radio show, “SportsNight,” has been a regular broadcast over Villanova airwaves, even as Bobich spent a semester abroad in England last spring. Both men are dedicated to their passion for sports media.
But the two wanted to do more with the show. Over the summer, Esposito had the itching to combine his passion for sports with his passion for service. Thus, Dream Job was born.
“I kept thinking of SLC and how I could incorporate that service-learning into the extracurricular things I do,” says Esposito, a communication major from Princeton, NJ. Struck with the idea in July, he immediately called Bobich, a marketing and management double-major spending the summer clear across the country in his hometown of Alamo, Calif. By the time the pair arrived for SLC orientation in August, the plan was set ready to be put into motion. Dream Job is now a program that runs out of the sports department of WXVU.
The premise of Dream Job is to provide one underprivileged student with the chance to experience his or her “dream job” of radio broadcasting and sports journalism. Dream Job enables the winning student to help broadcast coverage of a Villanova basketball game and interact with the media staff of the event.
“This has always been my dream job, and I wanted to give that opportunity to someone who might not be able to experience it on their own,” Esposito says.
“We want to open a kid’s eyes to a career avenue that may not have been a possibility for them,” Bobich says.
Through an essay contest, one winner is selected from applicants aged 7 to 17. This year, that winner was Daquan, his essay shining out of 15 applicants from Rays of Sunshine service sites.
“We chose [Daquan] because of his interest not only in Villanova but also because he showed a specific interest in sports journalism,” Bobich says.
And indeed, Daquan’s essay indicates that he shows these interests.
“My favorite sports team is [the] Villanova basketball team. They are my favorite team because Villanova can beat any team in the game. I want to be a sports broadcaster so I can know how [sports teams] win.”
After months of collaboration with service sites, WXVU radio and Athletics, Dream Job came to fruition. Dream Job’s dream boy, Daquan Gardner, arrived that night with two of his friends and his guardian, Kevin Weber, from Northern Home, a service site of Rays of Sunshine and a safe haven for underprivileged kids in Philadelphia. Esposito arranged for Daquan to participate in the pre-game radio show and the halftime show on the court, as well as to watch the game in its entirety.
Daquan, an incredibly animated and vivacious child, beamed as he talked on the air of his love of sports and of Villanova.
“Why do you like the Villanova basketball team?” Esposito asked Daquan during the pre-game show.
“Because of the Villanova tutors,” was Daquan’s immediate and candid reply.
Weber also noted the significance of the Villanova tutors in the environment of Northern Home as he observed Daquan on the air.
Northern Home has been serving inner city Philadelphia since 1853, when it started out as a haven for orphans, eventually taking in those abandoned during the Civil War. Northern Home sponsors a number of programs that seek to assuage the effects that poverty and homelessness can ravage on families in this area. Currently, Northern Home assists over 2,000 children. Not all of these students reside at Northern Home; most are bussed in from various areas of the city.
Daquan and the two friends who accompanied him to Dream Job, Jameriquai and Ezekial, participate in a therapeutic afterschool and summer program that provides a quiet environment to focus and grow, as well as work on behavioral problems they may have. The 50 kids enrolled in this program experience individual, group and art therapy; a community meal; and tutoring, the area where Villanova sends dedicated students to assist.
“We try to paint an avenue for [the students],” says Weber, drector of Recreation and Volunteer Services at Northern Home.
The program also strives to incorporate all aspects of a child’s life to maximize the benefit of the help they are receiving, including meetings between Northern Home staff, schoolteachers and parents.
“We try to keep the home, the school, and our program all in the same circle,” says Weber.
So working with this program and their own passion for sports journalism, Esposito and Bobich brought Daquan to campus to give him a chance to touch his dreams on the air and on the court. In addition to airtime and a basketball prize pack, Esposito and Bobich went the extra mile for Daquan.
“In his essay, Daquan had mentioned that his favorite player was Dante Cunningham,” Esposito says. The pair arranged for Daquan to meet Cunningham after the game. They surprised him with the meeting during the second half. Daquan was obviously thrilled.
Throughout the game, Daquan mentioned several times how he admired Cunningham because “he helps his teammates out through the whole entire game.”
Weber mentioned that Daquan showed similar teamwork in his daily life saying, “He watches out for his friends [at Northern Home].”
Indeed, teamwork made the event possible: teamwork between Villanova and Northern Home; Esposito, Bobich and Weber; SLC ideals and practical application. And because of those efforts, Daquan was able to interrogate Cunningham, candidly during the postgame meeting.
“How does it feel to be the best basketball player in the whole world?” he asked.
Cunningham answered Daquan’s questions with a smile. Corey Stokes and Head Coach Jay Wright also made a point of stopping by to say hello.
“We really felt like the whole team wanted to be involved with this,” Esposito says.
“You’re about to see the best basketball game in your whole entire life,” Daquan said to listeners on the air in the pregame show. Because of Dream Job, hopefully this will be one of Daquan’s.