Ruggers Prep Students for SATs

 When you think of rugby, you probably envision a full-contact sport with competing teams engaging in a ferocious sense of competition. And often it is. But for two Southern alumni, the sport serendipitously helped unite them with a Yale graduate to develop a company specializing in SAT/ACT preparation. The company – known as Bulldog Tutors – is reaching out to students at Hillhouse High School and offering free prep classes for those college-bound exams.

Andrew Marullo and Dan Rosa, who were classmates at Greenwich High School, would later become co-captains of Southern's rugby team while both attended the university several years ago. They graduated in 2010, both with a bachelor's degree in exercise science. Rosa returned to Southern and received his master's degree in special education in 2012. Currently, Marullo is pursuing a master's degree in physical education.

Bulldog Tutoring Company"Rugby has taught us intrinsic values: dedication, teamwork, leadership and respect," Rosa says.

The duo continued their passion for rugby after graduation by joining the New Haven Old Black Rugby team. In turn, this led to them meeting Mike Newcomer, a Yale graduate and founder of Bulldog Tutors, through connections on the team.

Rosa was invited by Newcomer to serve as the manager of Bulldog Tutors and to use his experience as a special education teacher to create the reading and writing curriculum. Later, Marullo was hired as the business developer. Now they work together for the company that was launched last June.

Marullo and Rosa grew up in a community renowned for its affluence and where students routinely had the opportunity to engage in SAT prep courses. But during their years at Southern, which included community service and tutoring volunteer work, they learned that many New Haven students could not afford such preparatory classes.

As a way to help close that education opportunity gap, Bulldog Tutors began last month offering free SAT/ACT prep tutoring to Hillhouse students.

Marullo says some tutoring companies can become so focused on profit that they forget about the people who really need the services their company offers.

"We wanted to engage with our local community," Rosa adds. "We wanted to give something back."

"New Haven has become my home," Marullo says. "I want to live here and do everything that I can to help my community."

Bulldog Tutors brought on a group of five college student volunteers to work with 20 Hillhouse students who opted for the SAT/ACT prep. The six-week course spends half of its time devoted to the SATs and half to the ACTs.

"We found that the students had no idea of the grading criteria...their eyes were wide open," Rosa says. "After the first session, five students continued to ask questions after that day's session was over."

Rosa and Marullo credit James Rauschenbach, assistant professor of exercise science, with kindling their love of teaching.