Marques Colston—the former New Orleans Saints star receiver turned entrepreneur, speaker and business strategist—has joined the faculty at the University of New Orleans where he is teaching a course in the honors program called “Leadership and Entrepreneurship.”
“I'm excited to welcome Marques to our faculty in the honors program,” said Chris Surprenant, philosophy professor, honors program director and director of UNO’s Urban Entrepreneurship and Policy Institute. “Everyone knows that he was a superstar on the field for the Saints, but not everyone knows the success he has had off the field the past five years as an entrepreneur.”
The live online course covers a variety of topics including learning to redefine personal skills and transfer them to new projects, seeing market opportunities and developing a vision for how to address those opportunities, and foundational skills such as career readiness and financial management.
As part of the course, students will also complete a number of activities to help them better identify their own skills, develop and grow their own brand, and prepare for their lives after college.
“In my first session, I wasn’t sure how the students would receive being taught by a former NFL player,” Colston said. “To break the ice when I introduced myself, I thanked them for welcoming the rookie into the classroom.”
No stranger to transformational education, Colston, who retired from professional football in 2015 after 10 years with the Saints, is the founder of Marques Colston Enterprises (MCE). He started MCE to empower growth-minded athletes, entrepreneurs and executives to discover, evolve and implement essential tools to better position themselves for sustained success.
In 2018, he partnered with Columbia Business School to create an executive education program for current and former professional athletes seeking the tools to launch ideas into action as entrepreneurs and skills to evaluate venture investment opportunities. Last year, he collaborated with his alma mater, Hofstra University, to create the Marques Colston Fellowship. The fellowship program supports students who are pursuing health careers, providing experiential learning opportunities each year.
Colston also serves as an ambassador for Son of a Saint, the New Orleans-based charitable organization that works to enhance the lives of fatherless boys. In his role, he facilitates monthly sessions with a group of mentees on topics ranging from leadership, personal development, life skills and personal finance.
“College students are facing some of the most uncertain times of any generation as they graduate and transition into the next phase of their lives,” Colston said. “I designed this course to facilitate a process to help students embrace the change and adversity that accompanies this transition. My hope is that students will leave with tools and insights they can activate as they pursue and develop their careers.”
Another highlight of the course is that all students will participate in an entrepreneurial, experiential learning project. The aim of the project is for the students to identify a problem in the world around them, devise a plan to address that problem and successfully put that plan into action.
According to Surprenant, the students can start a business, launch a community campaign or otherwise try to make the world a better place. Each student will have access to funding from UNO’s Urban Entrepreneurship & Policy Institute in order to help put their plan into action.
“Our students will have an incredible opportunity, not just to learn from Marques how to transfer the skills they've developed as athletes to the world outside of sports and outside of the university, but to apply what they've learned in practice,” Surprenant said. “I'm excited just to sit in on this course myself and learn from Marques as well."