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Taking Care of Business

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Written by USC blog contributor, Andie Hagemann

RouSean Cromwell, an ace student, was heavily recruited by multiple universities and nearly committed to Stanford during his junior year. But before his senior year of high school, he transferred to IMG Academy. It was there where he met then-USC head basketball coach Tim Floyd and his journey to USC began.

Cromwell-NCAAs.jpg"My main focus for college was to make sure that regardless of any outcome I would be in a great position," Cromwell said. "I was always looking for a school where I could get a great education and also give myself the best opportunity to be a professional ball player. Being in Los Angeles, I felt I could secure a future one way or the other."

At USC, the 6-foot-11 forward had a powerful presence on the court for the Trojans, but battled multiple injuries.

It was during Cromwell's redshirt junior season that the USC basketball program encountered a setback. Rumors circulated about the possible departure of Floyd and the possibility that the Trojans would not be eligible to play in the NCAA Tournament due to off-court allegations against the program. Cromwell then made the decision to transfer to Fresno Pacific University to continue his basketball career.

In the spring of 2010, Cromwell received an unexpected phone call. "I was contacted by SAAS and asked if I would want to come back and complete my degree," Cromwell said about USC's Stevens Academic Center. "The call to come back to USC was a bit of a surprise, but I always knew I would return to USC for my degree. When I received the call, my first thought was the Trojan Family is fighting for me. Since then, I've done what I can to be the best and honor that gift."

Fresno Pacific allowed Cromwell to take strictly finance courses to allow him to transfer as soon as possible. However, the courses could not be transferred to USC and RouSean lost a year scholastically. "I realized I was going to have to fight to get back in. I packed up my truck, drove back to Memphis and took courses at a community college," Cromwell said.

Upon returning to Los Angeles, Cromwell encountered another roadblock. The two courses that Cromwell took at a community college in Memphis could only be counted towards elective credits solely because USC had not had a transfer student from that school.

"At this point, I realized that this is not going to be just a scholastic achievement. It was going to be a test of my character and a symbol of my triumph over an extensive period of adversity," Cromwell said. "Every time you ask for strength, you don't just grow muscles. You wake up and have a load to lift and when that's over, you receive the power from that load. That is something I have learned from this experience."

Already in Los Angeles, Cromwell ventured into the real estate field working for a company that specialized in home and commercial loan litigation while attending Santa Monica College. By the fall of 2011, he was officially a USC student again.

Cromwell-Scout.jpg"When I got into school, I had three different student jobs: assistant fight instructor for the self-defense class, assistant in the office of industrial systems engineering department, and as an assistant in the SAAS office," Cromwell said. "It was then that I started learning about the different opportunities that USC offers."

This past November proved to be eventful for Cromwell. "I went to the internship fair in November and I seemed to be the only athlete there," Cromwell said. "A week prior, I was with one of our learning instructors at the McKay Center and talked about how his nephew was having trouble getting his resume together. Basically that led to the creation of the big idea that I came up with - 'Go Pro Initiative.'"

The initiative is a multimedia push to engage student-athletes on what is happening on campus by using the multiple signage systems in the McKay Center. "I would walk around campus and grab pamphlets on majors, campus information, and internship opportunities," Cromwell said. "My team and I are also constructing a database with all of the majors identified with real world applications and student-to-student descriptions of classes to help the student-athletes select classes that better suit them."

Cromwell wants current and future student-athletes at USC to be aware of all the tremendous opportunities that USC offers and maximize their scholastic ability by studying what they love.

"I understand there are some athletes on our campus that will go pro but there are a remarkable amount of student-athletes that may or may not know what their genius is," Cromwell said. "These guys shouldn't have to through what I went through in order to find what their niche is. I have spoken to many student-athletes. Most of them have no idea that there are 140 majors and minors at USC. There is a tremendous amount of potential that we cannot simply rely on 'immaculate conception' to uncover. There needs to be inspiration, and this idea will be a spark."

Cromwell intends to continue and expand the program this upcoming spring semester. "I've created a new display system for the McKay Center which is constantly changing to make it look even more attractive," Cromwell said. "It seems like it's already gotten the attention of some of the student-athletes. I want them to know what is going on so they can talk to their learning advisors about finding classes based on their newly discovered interests. Let's take the pain and boredom out of these classes by making sure these guys are studying something that they want to do."

After a long journey, RouSean Cromwell is set to graduate this May and is well on his way to accomplishing his dream to be a financial advisor. "I have an internship with Northwestern Mutual this semester. I will be working with them to become a financial advisor and in a about a year I will be eligible to take the series 7 exam to expand my practice to include stock shares and other securities. I want to be a financial role model for my family," Cromwell said. "I think this is going to be an awesome final semester and I can't wait to keep informing student-athletes about this program."

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