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Throughout the United States, schools scrambled in the months of February and March to transition to online distance learning amidst the global outbreak of COVID-19. The move was daunting for educators and students alike, with many not used to conducting or attending classes in a digital-only setting. During this time, companies stepped up to generously help schools in need, including alumni-founded Virtual Service Operations (VSO).

From helping teachers and students become proficient in new technologies, to assisting administrators to devise strategies to best suit their students’ needs, Christendom alumni at VSO went above and beyond during a time of need to help schools rapidly transition to online learning.

According to VP of Delivery and Offering Development John Echaniz (‘93), offering free assistance to schools was a natural decision.

“When we saw the coronavirus situation unfolding, we knew that there would be plenty of organizations thrust into using technology before they were ready for it,” remarked Echaniz. “Educators had some of the most daunting challenges in this homebound situation, so we reached out to organizations where we’ve been involved as students, parents, and coaches, to see where we could help in this challenging time.”

VSO assisted several schools, including Seton School, Holy Family Academy in Manassas, Virginia, and Thomas Aquinas College to quickly make the jump to online distance learning. The company assisted in a number of ways, from loaning tablets to teachers, to offering guidance to administrators. Recent graduate John Sullivan (’19) spearheaded efforts to help Thomas Aquinas bring their seminar-style courses online, creating a comprehensive guide for online collaboration. VSO also set up a tech support line that TAC students and faculty could contact for assistance.

VSO’s CEO Stephen O’Keefe (’93), a Christendom alumnus and chairman of Christendom’s Board of Directors, reached out to the college to offer assistance as well. While Christendom had already developed an online distance learning strategy thanks to its hardworking administrators, VSO was still a valuable advisor to the college and provided helpful step-by-step written materials to professors to help them learn new platforms.

Through these efforts, VSO and its employees provided a remarkable example of generosity during these difficult times. Rather than stand on the sidelines, they jumped into action, doing an incredible work of service for teachers and students alike.

Many Christendom alumni are currently employed by VSO, including co-founder John Birch (’94), Karla Hester (’99), Michael Hilleary (’05), Mark Hudson (‘95), and Douglas Turecek (’99). In addition, graduating senior Matthew Hill (’20) has already been hired as a business analyst for the company.

These graduates are proof positive that a liberal arts education is excellent preparation for a career in the ever-growing tech world. Armed with the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, and adapt to new challenges, Christendom alumni have gone on to excel in an array of tech-based careers, and the alumni at VSO are prime examples.

Their education helped set them up for more than just success — it set them up to be generous leaders ready to help those in need. Right now, generosity is needed in abundance. Thanks to these alumni, students were able to continue receiving an education, a source of hope in these difficult times.

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