Creating Career Ready Graduates

A team of recent grads, technology builders, and educators dedicated to the creation of more career-ready graduates

Why does S.O.C. Exist?

Students are entering an increasingly competitive career market, and quickly changing society, where high-impact learning experiences are required for success. The #1 indicator of success after graduation, in terms of career-readiness, career placement, improvements in critical thinking and general post-grad life satisfaction is participation in experiential & high-impact learning opportunities.

Less than 15% participate each year.

There is a rapidly growing community for undergraduates to gain real-world, experiential, and high-impact learning experiences. New co-op, intern, research, study abroad, & other opportunities for students have been popping up all around the country since the late 2000s. However, the majority of students are shockingly unaware of these opportunities, and institutions lack the ability to create, track, and verify learning outcomes.

Getting to 100%.

The Student Opportunity Center was built as the for student, by student solution to this problem. Our mission is to build a national network of students, employers, and institutions where students can discover, connect to, and build on their interests through the relevant experiences they have and create. The community of student experiential learning opportunities and high-impact practices is growing exponentially. It is our mission at the Student Opportunity Center to make sure that every student, institution, and employer is connected to that community.

Our Story

The Student Opportunity Center began when a group of students at The Florida State University noticed that many of their classmates wanted to do more to better themselves, but simply didn’t know where to start. SOC initially started as a student project at FSU, and then caught on around Florida, the Southeast, and is now the nation’s leading platform for experiential learning and high-impact practice management.

Meet our leadership team

Chris Freire

CEO
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A former honors student and undergrad researcher, Chris graduated with a degree in philosophy from Florida State University in the spring of 2013. Chris shifted his focus from pursuing a PhD in philosophy to founding S.O.C. in the spring of 2014, after he and the team realized the need and importance of a nation-wide network to better connect students to experiential learning and high-impact practices. After having a great undergraduate experience himself, Chris developed a passion for helping students make the most of their college experience, and is a big believer in educational technologies that modernize student engagement.

Christian Petretich

VP of Client Success
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Christian began his career on the Founding team of Plateau Systems, which was acquired by Success Factors in 2011 (then acquired by SAP). At Plateau Systems, Christian oversaw global support function that included Tier 1 end-user, Tier 2, and Tier 3 product support. He founded, grew, and managed a client success team of 34 employees who supported 250+ Global 2000 customers, totaling more than 15 million end users.

Ujjwala Kashkari

Director of Communication
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A Virginia Tech alumni, Ujjwala has over 10 years experience in ed-tech and media account management. Ujjwala is a big believer in technology's ability to improve efficiency and effectiveness in traditionally non-technical industries. This is reflected in her leadership role with the Washington Post's initiative to transition from print to digital media advertising, and her experience at DC-area community leader startups like B-Line Medical, a cutting-edge medical simulation software and Social Tables, who recently raised Series B financing.

Jason Yoon

VP of Engineering
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Jason began writing computer programs when he was 12. Throughout middle school, high school, and college, he excelled in both personal and professional software engineering and web development projects. A graduate of William & Mary University, Jason joined Student Opportunity Center after recognizing the critical problem it could help solve for students entering an increasingly competitive work force, with little real-world skills and experience. Jason has worked on everything from enterprise software applications to helping small businesses create their own websites.

Chris Freire

CEO

A former honors student and undergrad researcher, Chris graduated with a degree in philosophy from Florida State University in the spring of 2013. Chris shifted his focus from pursuing a PhD in philosophy to founding S.O.C. in the spring of 2014, after he and the team realized the need and importance of a nation-wide network to better connect students to experiential learning and high-impact practices. After having a great undergraduate experience himself, Chris developed a passion for helping students make the most of their college experience, and is a big believer in educational technologies that modernize student engagement.

Christian Petretich

Director of Client Success

Christian began his career on the Founding team of Plateau Systems, which was acquired by Success Factors in 2011 (then acquired by SAP). At Plateau Systems, Christian oversaw global support function that included Tier 1 end-user, Tier 2, and Tier 3 product support. He founded, grew, and managed a client success team of 34 employees who supported 250+ Global 2000 customers, totaling more than 15 million end users.

Jason Yoon

VP of Engineering

Jason began writing computer programs when he was 12. Throughout middle school, high school, and college, he excelled in both personal and professional software engineering and web development projects. A graduate of William & Mary University, Jason joined Student Opportunity Center after recognizing the critical problem it could help solve for students entering an increasingly competitive work force, with little real-world skills and experience. Jason has worked on everything from enterprise software applications to helping small businesses create their own websites.

Ujjwala Kashkari

Director of Sales

A Virginia Tech alumni, Ujjwala has over 10 years experience in ed-tech and media account management. Ujjwala is a big believer in technology's ability to improve efficiency and effectiveness in traditionally non-technical industries. This is reflected in her leadership role with the Washington Post's initiative to transition from print to digital media advertising, and her experience at DC-area community leader startups like B-Line Medical, a cutting-edge medical simulation software and Social Tables, who recently raised Series B financing.

David Yaskin

Advisor, Student Success
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David was on the early team of BlackBoard, and then went on to become Founder & CEO of Starfish Retention Solutions, which was acquired by Hobsons in 2015. David is an executive with 30 years experience creating and delivering technology solutions that bring about fundamental change in how people make the world better, in the fields of education, earth science, health care, and safety testing. David's last 20 years have focused on education, leading companies which help engage students in new ways to improve their success.

John Cavanaugh

Advisor, Higher Education
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Dr. John C. Cavanaugh is President and CEO of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. The Consortium consists of 14 universities in Washington DC. Previously, he served as Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and as president of the University of West Florida.

John is a leader in higher education policy and innovation, as well as for innovative uses of technology. He has led statutory and regulatory reform of higher education, and is a national leader on quality assurance and accreditation. John serves as vice chair of the Board of Trustees for the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), an inaugural Fellow of the Center for Strategic Change (at George Fox University), and on the leadership team for the Washington, DC Region Global Cities Initiative. He is past-president of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Board of Trustees, and has served as a Commissioner of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a Commissioner of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. He has served as member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, as treasurer of the State Higher Education Executive Officers, and as secretary-treasurer of the National Association of System Heads.

Nadia Yevstigneyeva

Advisor, Academic Impact & Outcomes
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Nadia is an analytical, quality and results focused higher education professional with nearly fifteen years of experience in education, study abroad, honors college/honors program administration, curriculum design, and budgeting. She is a passionate advocate of advanced academic programs with strong skills in development and management of initiatives, projects and grants. Nadia is the former director of the St. Petersburg College Honors Program, and a past president of the Southern Regional Honors Council.

Ric Fleisher

Advisor, Business Development
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Ric is a serial entrepreneur with 25 years experience in the technology arena. Ric has been involved with 8 start-ups. These ventures have included mobile, location based services, ID verification, networking hardware, speech, streaming video, collaboration, intelligent agents and RFID.

Ric is currently cofounder of Urgent.ly, a prominent DC-based startup which has raised $8.7M from investors since it’s founding in 2013. Urgent.ly connects people who have an urgent or time-sensitive need with the nearest party to meet it. Now and near. Geo-location based real-time discovery and matching that brings a presence to Search. Urgent.ly is the leading on-demand roadside assistance company.

David Yaskin

Advisor, Student Success

David was on the early team of BlackBoard, and then went on to become Founder & CEO of Starfish Retention Solutions, which was acquired by Hobsons in 2015. David is an executive with 30 years experience creating and delivering technology solutions that bring about fundamental change in how people make the world better, in the fields of education, earth science, health care, and safety testing. David's last 20 years have focused on education, leading companies which help engage students in new ways to improve their success.

John Cavanaugh

Advisor, Higher Education

Dr. John C. Cavanaugh is President and CEO of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. The Consortium consists of 14 universities in Washington DC. Previously, he served as Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and as president of the University of West Florida.

John is a leader in higher education policy and innovation, as well as for innovative uses of technology. He has led statutory and regulatory reform of higher education, and is a national leader on quality assurance and accreditation. John serves as vice chair of the Board of Trustees for the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), an inaugural Fellow of the Center for Strategic Change (at George Fox University), and on the leadership team for the Washington, DC Region Global Cities Initiative. He is past-president of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Board of Trustees, and has served as a Commissioner of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a Commissioner of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. He has served as member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, as treasurer of the State Higher Education Executive Officers, and as secretary-treasurer of the National Association of System Heads.

Nadia Yevstigneyeva

Advisor, Academic Impact & Outcomes

Nadia is an analytical, quality and results focused higher education professional with nearly fifteen years of experience in education, study abroad, honors college/honors program administration, curriculum design, and budgeting. She is a passionate advocate of advanced academic programs with strong skills in development and management of initiatives, projects and grants. Nadia is the former director of the St. Petersburg College Honors Program, and a past president of the Southern Regional Honors Council.

Ric Fleisher

Advisor, Business Development

Ric is a serial entrepreneur with 25 years experience in the technology arena. Ric has been involved with 8 start-ups. These ventures have included mobile, location based services, ID verification, networking hardware, speech, streaming video, collaboration, intelligent agents and RFID.

Ric is currently cofounder of Urgent.ly, a prominent DC-based startup which has raised $8.7M from investors since it’s founding in 2013. Urgent.ly connects people who have an urgent or time-sensitive need with the nearest party to meet it. Now and near. Geo-location based real-time discovery and matching that brings a presence to Search. Urgent.ly is the leading on-demand roadside assistance company.

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