Rockhurst, Launchcode Partnership Positioned for Growth as First Cohort Graduates

Friday, February 22, 2019
A student speaking at a graduation ceremony

Over the summer, Rockhurst University announced a new partnership with St. Louis-based organization Launchcode, agreeing to provide the organization space on campus to provide its free computer coding courses for qualified applicants looking to break into the tech industry.

The partnership makes a lot of sense — Launchcode is focused on providing a path to a career in the tech industry outside of a traditional computer science degree. The Helzberg School of Management, similarly, has expanded its offerings in data and technology focused subjects based on the needs of companies today.

On Thursday, Launchcode recognized the first cohort of graduates to complete its introductory course, LC101, in a ceremony in Arrupe Hall auditorium, offering a look at how far the partnership has come and where it was going.

“It takes a lot to get through this program,” Launchcode Executive Director Jeff Mazur said, addressing the graduates.

He then ran down the list of some of the 1,700 graduates who have come before them — among them a sous chef, a standup comedian, recent immigrants, a father-mother-daughter trio, some with Ph.D.'s and some who have yet to complete high school.

“They’re all different from one another, but they all share an important trait — they didn’t fit the mold of the software development but they were driven to do whatever it takes to build those skills,” Mazur said.

Just before receiving their graduation certificates, the students in LC101 were given an opportunity to share their story, revealing a group with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and motivations.

Cheryl McConnell, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business, Influence and Information Analysis, commended the graduates for what they’ve been able to accomplish. And though for some, finding Launchcode might have been a straightforward process, for many others the journey is a winding one.

“It got you here, to this place and time,” she said. “But most importantly, that journey and that path made you who you are today.”

For the more than 80 newly minted coders in Thursday’s graduating class, that path continues to the next part of the journey. And, as part of the ceremony, the program’s partners assured it would continue. The University assured it would continue offer space for Launchcode, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation gave the organization a $300,000 grant to expand its Kansas City offerings.