By Sherry DiBari

Even before he reached high school, David Catchings knew what his career path would be.

"Since I was at least in middle school, I knew I wanted to become a businessman," he said. "With my background of moving a lot and meeting so many new people, I felt that I would be great at relating to any type of group and be able to market any product."

Catchings, who graduates in May with a major in marketing and minor in business analytics, is leaving Old Dominion University with that dream - plus a number of internships and work-related skills under his belt.

As the son of Air Force employees, Catchings was born in Japan and has lived in Turkey and in seven American states. He went to high school in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Catchings knew that higher education would be in his future. His parents provided a good example of the importance of college - both have bachelor's degrees as well as two master's degrees each.

When it came time to choose a university, he looked to his older brother, Jonathan, who was a senior at ODU.

"I heard many stories about the campus life and classes he took," Catchings said.

Another incentive was extended family in Hampton Roads. "I always will have a place to get a nice, home-cooked meal and hang out with family," he said.

Catchings has taken full advantage of the Strome College's opportunities, including joining the American Marketing Association, obtaining internships and networking.

"The best part would be joining the Tanner Fellows Program," Catchings said. "Through this, I was given so much knowledge outside of the classroom, and it allowed me to network with local business leaders."

As a Fellow, Catchings attended Hampton Chamber of Commerce meetings, networked with business professionals, met Virginia House of Representatives members, participated in professional development courses and represented the Strome College during investor and accreditation events.

"Overall, this Fellowship is a huge reason I've grown as a businessperson," he said.

Outside of the classroom, Catchings expanded his marketing and business skills with a variety of internships.

His first internship was at Thick, Bold, and Healthy, a small company centered on offering health lifestyle options for plus-sized women. It gave him a chance to expand his social media and video skills.

In summer 2020, Catchings interned for the 757 Action and Resiliency Framework backed by the Hampton Roads Alliance. He joined other interns, primarily graduate students, as part of the 757 Place Making and Marketing Committee.

The interns discussed challenges, opportunities and strategic goals and made recommendations for Hampton Roads' economic growth.

"In the end I helped compile all the unified ideas into a white paper detailing what our committee believed to be the best strengths for our region regarding place making and marketing," Catchings said.

During his internships, he was able to connect with marketing professionals in the region, including Jillian Goodwin, marketing director for the Hampton Roads Alliance and his current supervisor.

As an intern at the Alliance, Catchings is hands-on. "I do everyday corporate marketing tasks that I learned about in class," he said. "All of these tasks have made me a well-rounded marketer, and I'm truly grateful that I was able to get this paid position."

The internship usually lasts one semester, but the Alliance chose to keep Catchings on through the spring and full-time through the summer.

Catchings thinks highly of professors at the Strome College, particularly Michelle Carpenter, a senior lecturer in marketing.

"She made me appreciate marketing even more," Catchings said. "Her enthusiasm for her students and course topics really makes the class even better. She is extremely gifted in teaching and is always my first pick as a teacher for any section that I need."

Carpenter, in turn, lauds Catchings' involvement in the Strome College.

"David Catchings has been an enthusiastic supporter of the AMA Strome Marketers and actively engaged in my classes," Carpenter said. "I was most impressed by his support of our Marketing Week Activities two years ago, where he helped the marketing club during a tailgate event - on a Saturday! This really stood out to me and is a testament to his character."

Through his educational journey, Catchings appreciates the support of his family and friends.

"I strive to be able to give back to my parents for all the hard work they've done to put me in a position they never were in at my age," he said. "The people I hold dear to my heart will always be a focus in my life."

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