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Larry and Susie Davenport hope to save seniors at Cardinal Stritch High School both time and money with the donation they recently made to their alma mater.

The couple, together with their son, Adam, are underwriting a complete assessment program to help determine the college, major and degree program that best fit each student.

The process, called the Serengeti Assessment, is offered through Gorillas & Gazelles LLC, a professional services firm based in Perrysburg that was co-founded by Larry Davenport. The goal is to help the students choose the right college and major from the start, increasing the likelihood they will be able to complete a bachelor’s degree within four years.

donation
Father Eric Schild, president of the Kateri Catholic School System, is pic-
tured with Adam, Susie and Larry Davenport. The Davenports are under-
writing an assessment program to determine the college, major and
degree program that best fit each senior at Cardinal Stritch High School.
Sixty-seven seniors took the assessment, including, from left, Stacey
Molnar, Benjamin Lynn, Adam Stuck, Lauren Oberlin and Joe Geiermann.
(Catholic Chronicle photo by Laurie Stevens Bertke)

“I’m really encouraged to think that the kids could get a quick start in a major that makes sense to them,” says Mr. Davenport.

As an accountant, he says, he has seen many people enter the profession for the wrong reasons only to end up changing careers. Many people do not know what they are good at or what their preferences are, he adds.

“The scary part is, smart people can do a lot of things very well, so if they get down the wrong track they can still do very well, but they’re not doing as good as they perhaps could,” says Mr. Davenport.

The Davenports’ son, Adam, a 2001 graduate of Cardinal Stritch who serves as president of Gorillas & Gazelles, explains the Serengeti Assessment evaluates preferences and motivations rather than skills because “you’re going to be successful and you’re going to enjoy what you do if you’re doing what you prefer to do, rather than what you’re just good at.”

The process begins with an online assessment that measures ten frames of reference, including sociology, psychology and personality, according to the younger Mr. Davenport.

“Based on the answers that the people give to all of the questions, reports are formulated and then we can do back-end analysis to help these students figure out their best type of major (and) college,” he says.

Each student receives a report of about 40 pages in length, which determines their character type using a system created by Gorillas & Gazelles. Based on traits the students will most likely display in working, learning and leisure environments, this information is used to advise the students on vocations that align well with their identified character type.

The character type is also used to determine the kind of learning and classroom environment that best fit each student¹s personality, which can help them choose college classes and professors that set them up for success, according to Mr. Davenport.

“It’s a pretty intensive process,” says Megan VanGorder, an intervention specialist for Cardinal Stritch and Kateri Catholic Academy. “It’s more than just an aptitude test.”

The Serengeti Assessment is valued at $295, making the Davenports’ total donation to Cardinal Stritch worth around $20,000. Sixty-seven seniors took the initial online assessment Feb. 15 during their senior theology class.

Adam Davenport was to present a group analysis and help the students interpret their results the following week.

Senior theology teacher Katie Shanahan has incorporated the assessment into her curriculum as a way of helping the students set goals for the future.

“In senior theology we spend a lot of time (talking) about living the Godly life, and how we truly can live this life that Jesus has put out in front of us,” explains Shanahan. “Part of that is understanding who we are — it helps us develop who we will become, who we want to become.”

(Reprinted with permission. originally published in the Catholic Chronicle March 13, 2011.)

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