Ambitious Alum finds a Passion in the Medical Field that Leads Her to Start Her Own Company: June’s aMaizeing Alumni

By Alexis Menard On June 25, 2020 2:10 PM

Alumna, Marcia Yhap-Davson, DNP, MBA, CRNA, graduated from UM-Flint in April 2020 with a dual degree in Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and Master of Business Administration (MBA), with a concentration in Health Care Management. During her time as a UM-Flint student, Marcia participated in the 2019 China Study Abroad trip and excelled in her studies which earned her the award, Most Outstanding MBA Student. 

Marcia migrated to the US in her childhood with her family and is a proud 1st generation college student that is a multiple degree/license holder. Marcia has had tremendous support from her family and even during the School of Management Honors and Awards ceremony, her family came to support her when she received the Most Outstanding MBA Student award in the winter of 2019.  Recently, during the COVID-19 outbreak, she volunteered with New York City Health and Hospital Corporation to serve one of the hardest-hit communities affected by the virus. Marcia always had an interest in business since high school and she is pursuing to open her own private anesthesia staffing agency.

As our featured alumni of the month, Marcia participated in a Q&A and gave advice about pursuing a career in the healthcare/management field, her backstory on how she got to where she is today, and why she chose UM-Flint along with her favorite experiences at the university.

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A: I am a proud graduate of UM-Flint, Class of 2020, graduating with a dual degree Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Health Care Management.

Q: Pursuing another degree?
A: At this moment, I have no future endeavor to return to school as I consider these degrees my terminal degrees, but as they say, “never say never.” I have always been an avid learner, passionate about school, and obsessed with learning and growing; some consider me a career student.

Q: Tell us about yourself!
A: I was born in Georgetown, Guyana, the only English-speaking country in South America. In 1983, my mother migrated to Canada, followed by the United States, where she worked tirelessly to save up enough money to move my entire family to the U.S. so that everyone can gain access to more opportunities and a better life. My educational journey in the U.S. began in middle school, where I was placed in the top class, later moving on to high school with the intent of studying business management.

Q: Where are you currently working, and your title? How long have you been in this position or at this organization? What is your normal day to day?
A: Always putting my best foot forward in everything I do, I accelerated in nursing, becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse in 1994. In 1996, I became a 1st generation college graduate in my family, obtaining an associate degree followed by my bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2000, through a correspondence program at Excelsior College. In 2003, I apply to the SUNY Health and Science Anesthesia Program, wherein 2007, I obtained my master’s degree graduating with honors as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).  I have been providing anesthesia services for over 12 years at various facilities in New York City, including multiple Level 1 Trauma Centers. I administer preoperative evaluations for patients before surgical procedures as anesthesia providers are considered “the gatekeepers” because we either clear or cancel procedures if it is deemed unsafe for the patients. I perform life-saving cardiopulmonary recession measures, secure and maintain airways and anesthesia management of patients requiring surgical procedures, including post-procedure care management. I am currently doing locums work for my own company Seamless Systems Inc., where I do contract work at facilities in need of anesthesia services such as hospitals and surgery centers. At the time COVID-19 reared its ugly head, I was covering three hospitals. When COVID-19 started spiking, I just in “foot-first” to become a COVID-19 volunteer with New York City Health and Hospital Corporation, serving the hardest-hit areas with multiple healthcare, economic, racial disparities, and the highest loss of life in the nation.

Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your degree(s)?
A: While in high school, although I enrolled in a gifted program called the Macy’s Health and Science program, I was always fascinated by the language of business and dreamt of becoming a business manager one day. After graduating high school, I applied to and was accepted to one of the top CUNY business Schools in New York City, Baruch College, where I intended to pursue my dreams. My mother grew impatient and rerouted my path in life by encouraging me to become a nurse. My first taste of management started in 2010 was when I purchased an investment property and opened Greene Legacy, Inc., to manage the property. Always ambitious, in 2016, when the opportunity presented itself, I started searching the web for schools with a DNP program since my profession will be requiring all CRNAs to possess a doctorate for entry into practice by 2025. I was fortunate enough to stumble on the only program I could find that offered a dual degree DNP/MBA program. It was a no brainer for me, a “win-win” because I saw a unique opportunity to complete my professional requirements while fulfilling a life-long dream of acquiring my MBA. I enrolled in a dual degree DNP/MBA Program at the University of Michigan-Flint. At the time, I was working two jobs as a CRNA, balancing work where I was the Chair of the Magnet Committee and a committed member of three other committees, family, and managing Greene Legacy, Inc.

Q: What is one of your favorite experiences at UM-Flint?
A: I enjoyed numerous experiences while enrolled in my program, where I frequented Michigan for the first time since migrating to the US. After high-school, I choose not to go away to college because I didn’t want to leave my parents. I always felt like I missed out on the opportunity of living on campus. I had the chance to travel to Flint; I stayed on campus during weekend classes. I had the privilege of being taught by the most outstanding professors and meeting so many people, some of whom have become lifelong friends. I have a fear of flying and would only take vacations to the Caribbean because the flights were short, and the environment was familiar. However, my aspirations changed last year while enrolled in my MBA program, when one of my professors, Professor Xu, came to visit one of my classes to educate us about the study-abroad Beijing Program. I was intrigued and challenged myself to rise above my fear of flying, and I am glad I did. I was exposed to a dynamic cultural experience rich in history, inclusive of quintessential food, tea, business, and family practices. It was my most memorable experience at UM-Flint.

School of Management Study Abroad trip to China in summer 2019.

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A: In 2003, when I was a Visiting Nurse, I was encouraged by a colleague to apply for the Nurse Anesthesia Program at SUNY Health and Science Center in Brooklyn. I enrolled in the program because I had already completed my bachelor’s degree, was becoming complacent and ready for a new challenge.

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A: My proudest accomplishment is, by far, my dual-degree DNP/MBA. Before discovering the dual degree program, I never even fathom I would one day acquire my DNP much less a dual degree, which includes my dreams of obtaining my MBA. At the time I enrolled, I was juggling two jobs, a family, a daughter starting her college career. I was also managing my business and participating in numerous work responsibilities; “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet,” I pulled it off, graduating with honors. Thinking about this great accomplishment gives me chills. I bought my entire family to the SOM Honors and Awards ceremony; they were so proud. I was extremely excited to have the support of my family, including my daughter, young nephew, and cousins, to serve as an example of the possibilities the journey called life has to offer.

Marcia Yhap-Davson receiving her Most Outstanding MBA Student Award from Dean Johnson

Q: What advice would you give students that are thinking of pursuing a career in your field?
A: I would encourage anyone thinking about following my footsteps always to remember, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” You must believe in yourself; nothing is impossible, and “failure is not an option.” School is difficult; it requires commitment, humility, and patience. It was a bit easy for me because I was living a dream in my MBA Program. After all, it was something I always wanted to do. The language of business is fascinating to me. Every class I took while enrolled in the program was equated to different aspects of my life. I grew in leaps and bounds professionally and personally and applied the lessons I learned to all areas of my life.

Q: Fun Facts!
A: I love old movies, and different genres of music from the 60’s to ’90s. I enjoy shopping and traveling. Since getting a taste of Beijing, I plan on returning to Asia to visit Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, and Vietnam. I recently resigned from my full-time position at New York-Presbyterian Hospital to work full-time for my own company Seamless Systems Inc., administering anesthesia services as a contractor. I am currently in the process of partnering with a colleague in hopes of opening a private anesthesia staffing agency called Diverse Professional Solutions, LLC. My company will seek out and negotiate contracts for anesthesia providers at out-patient surgery centers and hospitals. It will eventually expand to provide staffing opportunities for other Allied Health Professionals.

An MBA Graduate’s Passion for Learning and Harboring Education in Michigan: May’s aMaizeing Alumni

By Alexis Menard On May 28, 2020 12:00 PM

Alumnus, Chris Matheson, completed his undergraduate studies in History and English, at UM-Flint, receiving his BA, and then returned to UM-Flint to receive his MBA with a concentration in Finance. The Net+ program, a hybrid mix-mode program of online and two in-person weekend residencies, gave him the flexibility to have a balanced family and work life. His academic journey didn’t stop there as he is currently pursuing his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. Chris is the President of the ninth-largest education service and management provider in the nation that serves 13,000 students in Michigan. He is an avid learner and as our featured alumni of the month, Chris comments on his favorite moments from being in the MBA program, the future of mixed-mode approach to education post COVID-19, advice for working in the education field, and more!

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A: I earned an MBA in 2012 with a concentration in Finance from UM-Flint.

Q: Pursuing another degree or pursued one after your BBA?
A: I am currently working on my dissertation for an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. Previously I earned a BA from the University of Michigan-Flint in English and History; an MA in History from the University of Alabama; and an Ed.S. in Educational Leadership from Oakland University. I love school!

Q: Where are you currently working and your title? How long have you been in this position or at this organization?
A: I am currently the President of CS Partners, an education service provider located here in Michigan. I began at CS Partners in May 2017 as the Director of School Performance and was promoted to Vice President in January 2018 and President in July 2018. We are fortunate to serve over 2,000 employees and approximately 13,000 students in Michigan. 

Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your MBA?
A: I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan-Flint and had a great experience; that, combined with the flexibility offered via the NetPlus mode, made the University of Michigan-Flint my preferred choice. Due to job and family obligations, it would have been a tremendous struggle for me to commit to attending class in-person on a regular, weekly basis. The NetPlus format afforded me the flexibility I needed to work toward the degree I desired. 

Q: What is one of your favorite experiences at UM-Flint?
A: In all honesty, I have so many that choosing one is difficult. I absolutely loved the time I spent working toward earning an MBA at the University of Michigan-Flint. Pinned down I would point to the class in Entrepreneurship and the associated “shark tank” style assignment and competition. Dale Tuttle did an excellent job leading that class and really shaped our thinking regarding entrepreneurship. I really had a great experience during my time as a student in the program. 

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A: I was always fortunate to be surrounded by outstanding educators, whether in primary school, secondary school, or in university. I valued the relationships I created with my teachers and professors and wanted to provide the same value to others that I took from those teaching and advising me. 

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A: Fathering three great kids with my wife has been the highlight of my life. I see all my experiences prior to this as preparing me to be a father. I learned so much from my teachers, my professors, my students, and life, and these lessons learned serve to make me a better father. 

Q: What advice would you give students that are thinking of pursuing a career in your field?
A: To do it! It is an exciting time to be in the field of education. I am very fortunate that I get to do what I do, and I love being at the nexus of education and business–which was my career goal when I entered the MBA program at the University of Michigan-Flint. In my position I have the opportunity to work directly with schools on improving their academic programs and building organizational culture, which is working “in the business” and I also get to work “on the business” for CS Partners in developing leaders, building capacity within our organization, and growing our company. I attribute so much of the ability to do this to the knowledge I gained and the skills I developed in the MBA program. 

Q: What would you like to see happen to UM-Flint/Flint within the next five years?  
A: I look forward to the continued renaissance of Flint and would like to see the University of Michigan-Flint expand its footprint as it relates to the further development and improvement of the city. The students and staff of the University of Michigan-Flint have so much to offer Flint and so much to gain from a deeper, more intensive engagement with the city. The University of Michigan-Flint is uniquely positioned to add tremendous value to Flint and lead sustainable and systemic change.   

Q: Fun Facts!
A: Along with one of my best friends–and fellow University of Michigan-Flint alumni–Tim Tenneriello, I host The Fishbowl: Eyes on Education podcast. We have a great time discussing all things related to education and we really learn a great deal from the guests we have on the podcast. Just the other day my oldest daughter said to me “Daddy, you have smart friends!”

Q: Anything else you would like to mention that wasn’t covered in the previous questions?
Ironically, I was very suspicious of the mixed-mode approach to education when I began the program at the University of Michigan-Flint. My fears were quickly laid to rest as I soon found that I was surrounded by brilliant classmates, albeit often in a virtual format, and guided by amazing professors. I believe in this type of format the learner assumes a greater responsibility for her/his education and I embraced the challenge. Fast forward a number of years and two of the schools in our network that I am most proud to utilize this type of delivery of their academic program. NexTech-Grand Rapids and NexTech-Lansing are two high schools making a difference in the lives of the students they serve while delivering their respective academic programs in a mixed-mode format. I see the mixed-mode format as preparation for what one can increasingly expect in today’s work environment, so it is great preparation for the future. And, it is especially helpful currently given the challenges we are all facing due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

Bridging the Gap as an Attorney: April’s aMaizeing Alumni

By Alexis Menard On April 30, 2020 3:45 PM

Alumna, Rashal Baz Zureikat, received her first degree in 2014 with high honors from UM-Flint. Rashal has since moved to Chicago and earned her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and received admission to the Illinois Supreme Court Bar in 2017.

She went to Law school as a way to bridge the gap after she lost her father to cancer. She explains, the “inherent disparity in knowledge between the person sitting behind the desk delivering the news and the receiving party,” sparked her interest to enhance her education background. Over the years, many of her achievements were academia focus but her latest accomplishment is actively raising over $1,000,000 for the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Her success couldn’t have been achieved without the foundational support from pivotal family members, friends, and mentors.

As our featured Alumni of the month, Rashal gives insight into why she chose to go to Law school after her BBA and what she hopes Flint can become in the future. She also offered words of advice to students and alumni on what has helped carry her in the field to where she is today.

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A: BBA in Marketing, UM-Flint – 2014, high honors
Juris Doctor, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, 2017
Illinois Supreme Court Bar Acceptance, November 2017

Q: Pursuing another degree or pursued one after your BBA?
A: Yes, I earned my J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in May 2017.

Q: Where are you currently working and your title? How long have you been in this position or at this organization?
A: I recently began as a Labor and Employment Attorney at O’Hagan Meyer LLC in Chicago, Illinois. In addition, I have the pleasure of serving as an Adjunct Professor within the Business Law Clinic at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your BBA?
A: The ability to attain a BBA at a globally recognized university, with a small town feel, is something unorthodox and a true rarity. Flint harbors an exceptional community and has a cultural center that is the envy of many major cities; more importantly, it is my home.

Q: What is one of your favorite experiences at UM-Flint?
A: My favorite experience at UM-Flint was the access to the start up community. Trendsetters and passionate Flint natives are a dime a dozen. UM-Flint plays a big role in the redevelopment of Flint – a passion that is contagious and fuels innovation.

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A: A turning point in my choice to go to law school mounted following the loss of my father to cancer. He was a savvy business owner in the restaurant industry, but his health decline came suddenly and swiftly. I was immediately faced with hospital administrators and complicated property issues. At that point in time, I considered myself an educated individual but I couldn’t help but feel unequipped to handle the information coming my way. There is an inherent disparity in knowledge between the person sitting behind the desk delivering the news and the receiving party. Law school was my way of bridging the gap.

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A: Life is about perspective. Six years ago, my proudest accomplishment was my BBA from UM-Flint. Three years ago, it was about becoming an attorney. To date, one of my greatest accomplishments is actively raising over $1,000,000 for the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. None of these achievements were realized without pivotal family members, friends and mentors.

Q: What advice would you give students that are thinking of pursuing a career in your field?
A: I would direct anyone interested in corporate or labor and employment law to my favorite quote by Seneca; “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” The environment I work in is incredibly competitive, and you need to be composed and prepared. Build a relationship with your professors. We take them for granted, but they have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and social capital. The UM-Flint management professors helped me focus my goals and provided me with options I couldn’t recognize on my own. There are no self-made individuals.  We are a byproduct of all those that we come in contact with, so seek guidance and find one or two good mentors that can help steer you in the right direction.

More importantly, take your steps with an open mind without borders – do not confine yourself to one major because your passion may lie elsewhere. As the saying goes “if you love what you do, you never a work a day in your life.”

Q: What would you like to see happen to UM-Flint/Flint within the next five years?  
A: Flint was built on the automotive industry, but the universities that inhabit it will carry Flint’s future stability and success. I would like to see the continued growth of higher education within Flint. When you pair a wealth of culture with education, it fosters creativity that can be felt worldwide. I want to see a surge of investment capital and professional mentorship directly in the hands of budding entrepreneurs in Genesee County. A heavily addressed topic is the retention issue of educated youth in Michigan. The state is home to some of the best universities in the country, but it does not hold onto the talent it creates. This topic is not a novel one and is slowly getting better in the Metro Detroit area. A financial push directed at investing in young talent will widen the start-up culture in Flint and better the economy as a whole.

Q: Fun Facts!
A: Although my fun fact is very common, I love traveling and new adventures. I urge you to travel when possible or find those little cultural escapes brought to life by a good book. My husband and I have visited 39 countries and counting. We were extremely fortunate to plan our travels prior to the global pandemic.

Q: Any helpful advice you would give to a student or other alumni?

  • Stay grounded, and do not be afraid to roll up your sleeves.
  • Find one or two good mentors that can help steer you in the right direction.
  • Buying someone a coffee every now and again can go a long way.
  • Incorporate community service and volunteer outreach into your daily routine.  The best mentorships and friendships are those developed for the greater good.
  • Never forget the people who helped you achieve success and continue to pay it forward. You could be the missing piece to someone’s future accomplishments.

UM-Flint Financial Management Association Receives Top Three Honors at National Finance Conference Case Competition

By Alexis Menard On April 8, 2020 3:45 pm

Financial Management Association members at the 2020 Finance Leaders’ Conference. From left to right: Mustafa Salim, Parker Faubert, Ciera Meier, Austin McIntosh, and Todd Fridline. (Photo provided by Austin McIntosh).

During the 2019-2020 school year, the UM-Flint Financial Management Association (FMA) made a strong comeback. In recent years, the student organization has become inactive. A group of committed UM-Flint School of Management students made it their mission to restart the organization and offer resources to students interested in financial management. 

The mission of the Financial Management Association is to help students learn and challenge each other about various aspects of finance, such as investment banking, investment trading, investment management, and business administration-finance. They accomplish this through networking, being leaders in their classrooms, biweekly meetings, guest speaker events, and this year, attending a national conference. 

In early March, five students attended the 2020 Finance Leaders’ Conference in New York, New York, for the first time in the history of the organization. The team members that attended were Parker Faubert (BBA in Finance), Todd Fridline, Vice President of FMA (BBA in Finance), Hannah Hodgkinson (BBA in Accounting), Austin McIntosh, President of FMA (BBA in Finance), Ciera Meier, Treasurer of FMA (BBA in Accounting and Minor in Criminal Justice), and Mustafa Salim, Secretary of FMA (BA in Economics and Minor in Finance).

These determined students highlighted their skills and accomplishments in a Financial Case Competition with 60 other universities throughout the country. The deliverables of their case focused on the macroeconomic, quantitative, and qualitative analysis of Peloton, the popular at-home workout equipment that also provides customer support through their app and live-streams. 

“Due to this being our first time participating in this event, we did not know what to expect leading up to the event. Five of our six members were allowed to compete in this competition, and we divided the work up equally between these five members. We were given five hours to complete our analysis and we utilized this entire time. The deliverable for this portion of the competition was a four-page case report,” said Todd Fridline. 

FMA presented their findings to a panel of judges, and from their hard work, they received Top Three Honors in this competition. “This was a tremendous experience for everyone involved,” said Todd Fridline. 

Since it was our first conference, we were not sure what to expect out of this weekend. Our main goal for this conference was to take in as much information we could. From there, we can take this information to guide the club’s meetings and future conferences going forward. We were looking at this conference as a gateway to get the club up to the potential we see it as,” said Ciera Meier.

Austin McIntosh, President of FMA, said, “We would absolutely like to attend the conference again and become a routine part for the club and to build upon the success that we enjoyed this year. We would like to continue learning more in-depth aspects of finance and the business world. Previous competitions held at this conference were quiz bowls and case competitions, so if we continue to learn and practice these skill sets, it will set us up for success not only in future conferences but also in our careers.”

The faculty advisor for FMA, John Stephens, Lecturer of Accounting and Finance for the School of Management said, “I am very happy with the activity of the club and the initiative they have taken to plan, organize, and arrange funding for the trip to New York City. I am also very proud of their accomplishment with the case competition. Each school could decide if they wanted to enter the competition. Not only did the UM-Flint FMA decide to enter, but they also were all very enthusiastic about the competition and their deliverables. The analysis was very strong and the students ended up placing third for their analysis of the Peloton Corporation and earning a prize stipend. The other schools in the competition were much bigger programs, but our students proved that size does not matter because the principles are the same no matter where you attend college. ”

During the Fall 2019 and Winter 2020 semesters, the FMA’s primary focus was to recruit new members and achieve their goals. “We have used flyers, digital signage, and various word of mouth to let students know we are back on the radar. We have tables at the Mgagement Fairs, SOM Business Socials, and also promoted our various events throughout campus,” said Austin McIntosh. 

“By putting on various events, and making this organization centered around what the members want to gain out of the club, we are continuously achieving our goal of learning and challenging ourselves on aspects of business administrative finance,” Austin McIntosh continues, “Rebuilding this club and achieving the success as we did at the Finance Leaders’ conference truly shows that the University is excelling in teaching their students in becoming the Leaders and the Best.”

According to the group members, all of this couldn’t have been done without the guidance of FMA’s faculty advisor, John Stephens. “He has given us tremendous support and has contributed numerous ideas to help make the club become the best it can be. Aside from the club itself, he has assisted us in making smart decisions for our career as well as answering our financial questions that we come to him with,” said Austin McIntosh. 

The intensity is up for FMA’s upcoming 2020-2021 academic year as they plan to continue to bring in well-known professionals from the community to educate students on specific industries within the business world, volunteer within the community, travel to Michigan firms in the finance/accounting field, host fun engaging student events, and attend the 2021 Finance Leaders’ Conference. The student organization will continue to be a learning environment for students interested in accounting and finance, even if it’s not their degree focus. 

“I think that the program in the School of Management can hold their heads high in the sense that our students are learning how to think and problem solve using the tools that are taught in class. I am very proud of this accomplishment and the club has certainly set a high standard for next year’s club,” said John Stephens.

Current members testimonials on why they joined FMA:

 I joined the club because I really wanted to more involved on campus as a sophomore. I am an accounting major, and wanted to join an org that would compliment that but also broaden my horizons. Meeting new people was a bonus!
Hannah Hodgkinson, BBA in Accounting

“I was looking for a way to get more involved on campus. Although I am not majoring in finance, I thought it would be good to extend my knowledge in that field.”
Ciera Meier, Treasurer of FMA, BBA in Accounting and Minor in Criminal Justice

“I’ve always been interested in financial markets and the economy. As an economics major I wanted to add more depth to my degree. The club solidified the idea of adding a Finance minor to my degree.”
Mustafa Salim, Secretary of FMA, BA in Economics and Minor in Finance

“I was seeking a club that was not only related to my major but also as a way to get involved on campus, being that this is a crucial way to stand out to potential employers, and at the same time make myself a more well-rounded individual.”
Austin McIntosh, President of FMA, BBA in Finance

Interested in join FMA in the Fall 2020? Email Austin McIntosh at

Grad calls NYC home while working for Michigan Marketing Agency: March’s aMaizeing Alumni

By Alexis Menard On March 25, 2020 3:45 PM

Alumna, Ariees Spangler, graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing. During her time at UM-Flint, she worked for the EDA University Center, 100K Ideas and participated in a wide variety of extracurricular activities such as the Cheerleading Club, Women’s Lacrosse Club, and Beta Gamma Sigma. She currently operates her own photography business and lives in New York City while working remotely for a Michigan based digital marketing agency. As our featured Alumni of the month, Ariees will give insight to her experiences at UM-Flint, how she fell into the social media world, and advice on pursuing a career in social media and marketing!

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A: I received my BBA in Marketing from UM-Flint’s School of Management in December 2017.

Q: Pursuing another degree?
A: I’m not pursuing another degree at the moment, but I have plans to in the future. Education is valuable and I enjoy learning and challenging myself to grow.

Q: Where are you currently working and your title? How long have you been in this position or at this organization? What is your normal day to day?
A: I work as a social media manager for a small digital marketing agency in Howell, Michigan. I’ve worked with the agency for two years and I love what I do. My day-to-day responsibilities range from strategy development and implementation to content creation. I’m also responsible for managing online relationships and analyzing campaign data for each of our clients.

Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your BBA?
A: Initially, I chose UM-Flint because it was close to home. I had plans to transfer after my sophomore year but became so attached that I decided to stay. The city, my professors, and my classmates all played a role in my decision to continue my education there.

As time went on, I grew to love the grit and determination of the Flint community. Between my time at UM-Flint and my internship experience downtown, I spent a lot of time in the city. It has so much to offer and I’m happy I stayed to experience it.

Q: What is one of your favorite experiences at UM-Flint?
A: During my senior year, I had the opportunity to work for the EDA University Center. We had lots of laughs and I was happy to work in a position that kept me involved on campus. I always looked forward to my time there and built relationships that I’m still grateful for today.

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A: Honestly, I sort of fell into it. During my senior year, I worked at 100K Ideas in downtown Flint. The organization was launching at the time, so we had no online presence. Since I studied marketing, our social media accounts became my responsibility. I enjoyed the work I did and decided to follow that career path after graduation.

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A: It’s small, but one of my proudest accomplishments was building a photography business while pursuing an education and beginning my career. It wasn’t always easy, and there were times I felt like I couldn’t do it, but hard work and tenacity made it happen. I learned a lot throughout the processes, and the skills I developed were valuable to the position I hold today.

Q: What advice would you give students that are thinking of pursuing a career in marketing/social media?
A: Marketing is a dynamic, diverse field with a spot for everyone. If you haven’t already, analyze your strengths and determine what you’re passionate about. Someone who excels in content marketing may not have the skills required for a market research position. Build relationships with your professors and peers, ask questions, explore different internship opportunities, and take advantage of everything the School of Management has to offer.

To those pursuing a career in social media marketing—work on building a portfolio now. Chances are, employers want to see what you can do before they hire you. Finally, social media is an ever-changing field. Take time to stay up-to-date with trends, algorithms, and features. This knowledge will help you stay ahead!

Q: Fun Facts!
A: Last summer, I moved to New York City and had the opportunity to continue working in my position from afar. I’m passionate about photography and spend much of my free time capturing portraits for clients and experimenting with film.

Dear Professor: Can an employer fire me or refuse to hire me for being a smoker?

Posted by Alexis Menard on February 11, 2020 at 2:15 pm

Dear Professor:

Q: Can an employer fire me or refuse to hire me for being a smoker?

A: First distinguish between smoking at work and smoking off-premises.  Employers can ban smoking, including vaping, at work and on the job site.  Beyond that, some employers wish to refuse to hire or wish to fire smokers for three reasons: smokers impose higher health-care premiums and costs than non-smokers, smokers are less productive on the job (taking smoke breaks), and smokers have a higher absentee rate. 

Protection for smoking off-premises depends on which state your employer is located.  There is no federal law declaring smokers a “protected class” under discrimination laws.  You must look to the local laws for the answer.  Washington, D.C. and 29 states have enacted legislation which provides smokers some protection.  The protection either directly includes smoking or is wrapped in language that protects workers from adverse actions for off-duty conduct, be it smoking or other activities (California, Colorado, New York, North Carolina).  See for a list of state statutes.

There may be variations in the applicability of the laws, depending on whether the employer is public or private, how many workers are employed by the employer, and whether a union contract addresses the issue.  As with other discrimination protection laws, there are exceptions if safety is involved or if a “BFOQ” exists. A BFOQ is a bona fide occupational requirement that makes a ban legitimate.

Francine Cullari, MA, MBA, JD

 (If you have a question of general interest in any area of business, send your inquiry to  An answer will be posted in the immediately subsequent issue. Individual advice is not offered in this forum.  The opinion is that of the professor answering your question and not necessarily that of SOM or UM.)

100% Online Masters of Business Administration Program

By Alexis Menard On February 1, 2020 2:15 pm

The University of Michigan-Flint’s School of Management now offers the most flexible MBA program around. Starting in spring 2020, the MBA program will offer a fully online completion path. The online MBA will enhance UM-Flint’s current evening and Net+ hybrid MBA course offerings. The University of Michigan-Flint’s online MBA allows students from around the world to receive the highly prestigious University of Michigan MBA education without leaving home. “Our online MBA courses offer students an incredible amount of flexibility in pursuing their degree. Students might pursue a degree that is primarily online with a mix of Net+ hybrid and traditional courses, or pursue a (the MBA) degree that is primarily Net+ and take advantage of an online course here and there when they need to. Faculty teaching online are making use of video conferencing and other tools to bring more of the traditional classroom feeling into the online learning experience,” said Dr. Greg Laurence, Associate Professor of Management.

University of Michigan-Flint MBA students will now have the opportunity to choose from three modes of MBA classes, making its flexibility unmatched. Students can choose from an evening class, which meets weekly, Net+ hybrid classes, which are mostly online with two-weekend campus sessions each semester and 100% online classes that require no campus visits. UM-Flint’s distinguished MBA professors teach in all three modes and are based on the University of Michigan-Flint campus. Dr. Clement Chen, Professor of Accounting says, “The online MBA program is taught by faculty who excel in online instruction. They are passionate about imparting knowledge and building rapport with students in an interactive online learning community. Professors care a great deal about students learning and are very responsive to the learning needs of students.”

For more information on the MBA, visit:

Flying through School: A Journey from Civilian Student to Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force

By Alexis Menard On January 28, 2020 3:15 pm

Veronica Hindelang ’20, BBA in Finance

Veronica Hindelang (‘20) isn’t your typical college student at the University of Michigan-Flint. This unique college student set out to complete her undergraduate and graduate education in less than four years. Currently, Hindelang is a senior studying Finance for her Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), and in less than three months from now, she will be walking the commencement stage only to jump in a week later into the MBA program at UM-Flint.

Even more ambitious, Hindelang’s long-term goal is going into the United States Air Force first as a Second Lieutenant and continue to make rank after her commission. After deciding to pursue a career in the Air Force, she realized the value of pursuing her education so that one day she could become an officer. “I chose the Air Force as I was most familiar with the branch,” said Hindelang. Her father is an Air Force Veteran and served for 22 years. 

To become an officer in the Air Force requires Hindelang to complete the Reserve Officers Training Corps – and the University of Michigan was on her radar. She quickly found out that she could still participate in the program while attending UM-Flint. “I opted for the branch that was closest to home, more affordable, and with a better student to faculty ratio,” Hindelang continues, “After some time in my field, I will be required to obtain a master’s degree to continue to make rank, as do all other military officers. I believe that completing my masters now while I am in a situation with advantageous resources and propelling motivation would be best. My ability and readiness to pursue and successfully complete my education are at a peak.” 

The senior from Frankenmuth, MI states, “The military, as I believe, would provide me with valuable and unique experiences that the civilian sector could not. There are opportunities and benefits I would like to pursue, and in my experience so far, I’ve met wonderful people, traveled to interesting places, and have seen a change in myself for the better.” Veronica explains that she plans on exploring careers as either a pilot, combat systems officer, remote pilot, or an air battle manager and “the Air Force seems to be a good fit and right place to do it.” 

Joining the military is a selfless act for your country and Hindelang advises those interested in enlisting to consider that “education is very important for every rank in the military. You never stop learning. Reaching out to people and learning together can teach you a lot about others and yourself.”

Even though she found a college that could fulfill her unique needs for completing a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in under two years, she still ran into some normal roadblocks. Hindelang stated, “It was difficult to make connections in the beginning when I was touching bases with different departments to complete my gen ed courses but after settling in the School of Management to complete my core classes, I’ve met a wonderful group of faculty and students. I feel supported and focused in my direction.”

Fast-tracking a degree is never an easy task and comes with challenges that SOM staff and faculty continue to support Hindelang with. “I am extremely grateful for my Academic Advisor, Brenda Harrison, for consistently meeting with me and helping me stay on track,” said Hndlelang. She also states appreciation for the Student Success Center and their tutors. “They have been great resources alongside a few standout professors like Dr. Min Jung Kang, Professor of Finance, and Michael B McCarthy, Lecturer of Finance and Quantitative Methods,” she said. 

“After many stressful semesters, what I have and still value the most, are those, both student and faculty, who willingness to be flexible and constructive has helped me grow and succeed,” continues Hindelang, “Communicative, dedicated, personable, and reasonable instructors and students who share their strengths and complement your weaknesses in the courses you take together are the reason I have been able to push myself further than I thought I could. Special thanks to Noah Knutson, Hunter Johnson and anyone who joined study groups with me.”

Getting Her Feet Wet in the Financial Services Industry: January’s aMAIZEing Alumni

By Alexis Menard On January 27, 2020 4:22 PM

Alumna, Katie Osentoski (McAuliffe), received her Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing in 2014. Katie pursued professional designations in the Finance industry like Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional™ (FPQP™) and Life, Health &
Accident Insurance License with the state of Michigan. As a full-time Associate Wealth Coach and Mom, she is pursuing the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) certification. As our featured Alumni of the month, Kaite will give insight to her experiences at UM-Flint, finding what she loves in a career, crucial advice when trying to find an internship/career, and more!

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A: I graduated in 2014. I graduated from the School of Management with a B.B.A. with a marketing concentration.

Q: Pursuing another degree?
A: I am not pursuing another degree. However, since graduating, I have pursued professional designations in my industry. Through the College for Financial Planning® — a Kaplan Company, I earned the Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional™ (FPQP™) designation in 2018. In 2019, I obtained my Life, Health & Accident Insurance License with the state of Michigan. I am currently pursuing the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) certification.

Q: Where are you currently working and your title? How long have you been in this position or at this organization?
A: I work for a privately held wealth management firm in Troy, Michigan. I have been with the firm for over 3 ½ years. When I started with the firm, I was serving as an investment operations specialist. In 2019, I transitioned into a new role – associate wealth coach.

Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your BBA?
A: I chose UM-Flint for three primary reasons. First, I had heard first-hand from students and employers that the school gives students the skills to excel in their careers. My education, connections and employability were the most important things when it came to deciding on a university. That wasn’t always the case for me, though. I had attended Central Michigan University and transferred to UM-Flint my junior year. I initially chose Central Michigan based on the following priorities: I felt I needed the experience of living away from home, I wanted the social experience and LASTLY because of my education. By the time I reached the end of my sophomore year, I had my priorities in line and was ready to get back on track and focus on my education. Transferring to UM-Flint helped me to do that.

Second, I knew I wanted to set myself up for financial success. While attending UM-Flint, I was able to live at home, work part-time, set aside an emergency fund and cash flow a large portion of my tuition. I was also able to obtain scholarships based on my academic merits which was instrumental.

Third, my family is from the surrounding Flint area. My grandparents owned businesses in Flint and were active members in the community. I take great pride in being from the Flint-area and attending a school in Flint seemed to be a natural fit.

Q: What is one of your favorite experiences at UM-Flint?
A: I enjoyed my time in the classroom. Every time I entered the classroom, I dug in. I participated. I asked the questions. I was the student that others probably rolled their eyes at when I popped my hand up because I had a question. But I was at a point in my education where I knew not to hold back questions or thoughts. Any question/idea was better than no question/idea. Each of my professors reciprocated and I found the more I engaged, the more they engaged, and I had amazing experiences and relationships with the professors.

One of my favorite projects was in Dr. Dan Lair’s Business Communications class. Our class created a program called Hiring U which was designed to help other students move from a college student to career professionals. We established an online presence and marketed the program, created meaningful content to help students and finished the class with a university event with a panel of hiring experts. I learned so much in the classroom in terms of hiring, marketing and working on a team. A bonus to this class…I met some great friends that are still in my life to this day!

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A: During my senior year at UM-Flint, I did a marketing and development internship at the Flint Institute of Arts (FIA). Within a few short months, I was offered a job as an assistant events coordinator. I worked at the museum coordinating events, working on committees with community leaders and marketing programs and exhibitions.

My time at the FIA made me realize I love developing meaningful relationships with people and marketing. Soon after graduation, I accepted a marketing and client service role at a financial firm in Flint. This position allowed me to explore my marketing interests while exposing me to insurance and financial services. From that moment, I knew I wanted to work in the financial services industry. It had everything I needed in a career. It allowed me to develop relationships, make a meaningful impact in businesses and families financial lives and channel both my analytical and creative skills.

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A: I am proud to be a working mom. It is one of the most challenging yet rewarding things I have ever done. I often think back to Business Law with Dr. Witt. He had mentioned he would hire someone from UM-Flint any day because we have grit. Students from UM-Flint work hard. We multitask. We do what it takes to get the job done. We. Get. Stuff. Done. And that’s what it takes in the real world!

As a side note, Business Law with Dr. Witt was probably one of the most impactful classes I had taken. I’m glad I paid such close attention in the class because little did I know it would be applicable on a daily basis in my career!

Q: What advice would you give students that are thinking of pursuing a career in marketing/financial planning?
A: I have three main pieces of advice. First, take the job. Even if it’s not exactly what you’re looking for, or maybe you’re not sure it’s a fit…take the job and get your feet wet. You never know where it’s going to lead.

Second, always remember the expert in anything was once a beginner. Take the first step, give yourself grace and know your worth.

Third, never underestimate the value of networking and connections. Never burn a bridge and always treat others with respect.

Q: Fun Facts!
A: In 2014 I married my best friend, Chad Osentoski. We met at Mott Community College and took many classes together at UM-Flint. Chad graduated from UM-Flint as well and is now an assistant project manager at an industrial contracting firm. We are both grateful for our time at UM-Flint and owe the school many thanks. We had our first child in 2018 and are expecting our second child in July of this year.

Life is busy between being a wife/mom, working and studying. I do always try to make time for myself (it is important for mental health). In my free time, I enjoy horseback riding and spending time kayaking and pontooning on our lake.

A random fact: A recent hobby of mine has been studying the enneagram and Myers-Briggs personality assessments. My employer uses the tests with employees and clients. It has been fascinating to learn. The tests can truly help you to understand yourself and others. As a reference, I identify as an Enneagram Type 1 Wing 2 (known as the perfectionist) and a Myers-Briggs ESFJ (known as the consul). The assessments are worth looking into and can be applicable in your career and daily life!

Finance Student Interns at the State of Michigan Treasury

By Alexis Menard On December 23, 2019 1:30 pm

Barclay (Clay) Davis, BBA ’19 in Finance

Barclay (Clay) Davis graduated with honors from UM-Flint School of Management in December 2019 with his Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) in Finance. During his time at UM-Flint, he applied his knowledge at an internship at the State of Michigan Treasury. In his role as the student assistant, he supported the Real, Opportunistic, and Absolute Return Division through research and analysis skills to recommend purchases, retention or sale of investments.

Davis is originally from Highland, Michigan and choose UM-Flint because of the high quality of education and affordability of tuition. “The application of the concepts I learned at UM-flint helped me understand my studies more and relate them to what I wanted to do as a career,” Davis continues, “I would have to say nearly all my School of Management courses directly or indirectly applied to my internship as a wide variety of skills and knowledge were required for my internship. This internship gave me the opportunity to show my skills and I am now being considered for a full-time financial analyst position.”

His post-graduation goal is to pursue a career as a financial analyst, one of the most prevalent career paths in finance. “I plan to become a financial analyst for the State of Michigan Retirement Systems pension fund within the State of Michigan Treasury. I have always had an interest in finance and financial markets and enjoy the process of identifying and researching investments,” said Davis. At his position, he gained a variety of skills but mostly valued gaining firsthand knowledge of what a financial analyst goes through on a daily basis and enjoyed meeting with large financial firms. “This experience showed me the level of expertise, attention to detail, and hard work it takes to be financial analysts,” said Davis.

Mr. Nichols, Lecturer of Management, and Dr. Stephens, Lecturer of Finance, informed Davis about the competitive internship program at the State of Michigan Treasury. “I cannot thank both of them enough for their interest in finding opportunities for students that lead to internships and potential careers,” Davis continues, “UM-Flint has given me the opportunity and skills necessary to excel in my future career, and I cannot thank the University enough.”