Accomplished Alumna, Anna Church, Takes Leadership Role at Hagerman Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation: February aMAIZEing Alumni

In April 2023, Anna Church, a distinguished graduate of the School of Management with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, transitioned seamlessly into the position of Program Manager at the Hagerman Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation upon completing her academic journey. During her tenure as a student at UM-Flint, Anna actively engaged with the Center, demonstrating a profound commitment to fostering entrepreneurial initiatives among her peers and the local community.
Anna’s extensive involvement extended to various roles, including positions with 100K Ideas and the university’s Rec Center. Notably, her association with 100K Ideas, a key ecosystem partner of the Hagerman Center, has proven invaluable in shaping her professional trajectory and contributing to her future endeavors.

Q: Were you involved in any clubs or extracurriculars during your college experience? If so, what organizations/clubs?
A: I was involved in and president of Women’s Club Soccer, along with being a member of the Entrepreneurs Society, InterVarsity, and a Hagerman Scholar. Outside of that, I own(ed) my own portrait photography business.

Q: Where are you currently working and your title? How long have you been in this position or at this organization? 
A: I am the Program Manager for the Hagerman Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, within UM-Flint’s School of Management. After being a student employee, I was offered a full-time position in July of 2023.

Q: What is your job like day to day?
A: As a program manager, a typical day includes coordination, project management, and goal achievement. In this role, I work closely with the Center’s director and associate director. I often plan, market, and execute events that ignite a passion for entrepreneurship. Also, I play the role of a mentor, overseeing six talented student scholarship recipients who bring fresh perspectives and invaluable assistance to our programs and events. It’s a rewarding experience to witness their growth and contribution to the Center’s shared goals.
In the broader scope of my responsibilities, I engage in strategic dialogues with various organizations within Flint’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. It’s about building bridges that strengthen the foundation of the shared entrepreneurial mission.
So, as a program manager, my days are a whirlwind of creativity, coordination, and collaboration.

Q: Why did you choose to attend UM-Flint for your degree(s)?
A: Choosing UM-Flint for my degree wasn’t just a decision; it was a convergence of my passions and purpose. As a budding photographer, I found myself at a crossroads where my artistic inclinations intersected with the world of business.
During orientation, I engaged in insightful conversations with various individuals who opened my eyes to the possibilities within the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The more I delved into the program’s offerings, the more convinced I became that it aligned seamlessly with my aspirations.
The encouragement and support I received from the university community solidified my decision. It wasn’t just about earning a degree; it was about crafting an educational experience tailored to my passion.

Q: What is the most important thing you learned while you were at UM-Flint? 
A: During my time at UM-Flint, the most crucial lesson I learned was the importance of application. While education serves as a valuable asset, its true power is unleashed when applied in the real world. Recognizing this, I made a conscious effort to not only absorb knowledge in the classroom but to actively integrate it into my professional experiences.
One of the key strategies I employed was holding a job during each semester I pursued my degree. These employment opportunities weren’t just a means to make ends meet; they were invaluable learning environments that provided real-world contexts for the theories and concepts I studied in class. Each position became a stepping stone, contributing significantly to my journey and shaping the trajectory of my career.

Q: Who influenced you most during your time at UM-Flint and why?
A: Throughout my time at UM-Flint, Dr. Mark Simon had the biggest impact on me. He emerged as more than just a favorite professor – he became a mentor while I was a student scholar and, eventually, became my supervisor. He went beyond the role of an instructor, actively seeking opportunities to offer guidance, support, and, most importantly, avenues for personal and professional advancement.

Q: What is one of your favorite events you attended or classroom experiences at UM-Flint? Why?
A: Attending the Flint City Bucks game with the School of Management was a highlight of my time at UM-Flint. It was more than just a soccer match; it was a fantastic opportunity to network with fellow students, faculty, and staff in a dynamic and enjoyable setting.

Q: What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?
A: To current students and recent graduates eager to embark on a career in business, I would encourage the following:
1. Take Chances: Embrace opportunities that might seem daunting at first. Whether it’s a new project, a challenging assignment, or an unfamiliar role, taking chances is often where you discover your true potential. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone – that’s where growth happens.
2. Prioritize Your Goals: Define your professional goals and prioritize them. Whether it’s climbing the corporate ladder, starting your own venture, or pursuing further education, understanding your objectives helps you make strategic decisions that align with your aspirations.
3. Take Breaks: Burnout is real, and it’s essential to prioritize self-care. Take breaks when needed, recharge your mind, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Sometimes stepping away for a moment allows you to come back with a fresh perspective and renewed energy.
4. Build a Network: Cultivate meaningful relationships within your professional network. Attend industry events, connect with professionals in your field, and seek mentorship. Networking not only opens doors to opportunities but also provides valuable insights and guidance.
5. Continuously Learn: The professional landscape is ever-evolving. Stay curious, embrace a mindset of continuous learning, and be open to acquiring new skills. This not only keeps you relevant but also positions you as an adaptable and valuable asset in your field.

Q: What is a long-term career or professional goal you have for yourself?
A: One of my long-term career and professional goals is to establish and lead one or more small businesses with a strong focus on social impact and community involvement, all while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A: Securing a new, full-time position right out of college stands as one of my proudest accomplishments to date. This opportunity not only opened the door to a fulfilling professional journey but also introduced me to an exceptional team. Recently, our collective efforts were honored with the prestigious Excellence in Co-Curricular Innovation award, marking a significant milestone in my career.
The remarkable experience of accepting the award on stage was the culmination of countless hours of dedication. Stepping into the spotlight, I felt an immense sense of pride not just for my individual achievements but for the collaborative effort that earned our team this prestigious honor. It was a moment to celebrate not only the award but the journey and camaraderie that made it possible.

Q: Fun Facts! (Examples: sports fan, long term goals, favorite vacation, future travel plans/ideas, or come up with your own!)
A: I enjoy taking trips and exploring the great outdoors with my boyfriend. We often go to the great lakes or local trails to enjoy the outdoors.

Q: What is something people may not know about you?
A: I’m really into coffee and visiting new coffee shops! My first gig was slinging drinks as a barista at Biggby Coffee, and ever since then, I’ve been hooked. Lately, I’ve been loving a hot hazelnut oat milk latte – it’s my current go-to pick-me-up!