Category Archives: Alumni News

SOM Alum Returns to be an Asset to His Alma Mater: August’s aMaizeing Alumni

Alumnus, Trumaine Patrick graduated from the UM-Flint School of Management in 2014 with his BBA in Accounting. He continued his education at UM-Flint and received his Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) in 2020. During his time as a student, Trumaine was the Beta Alpha Psi Vice President, Assistant Coach of the UM-Flint Club Football, and volunteered in the UM-Flint Tax Preparation Service (VITA).

Trumaine currently works as an Accountant Associate at UM-Flint Department of Financial Services & Budget and has over six years of accounting experience and banking experience. As our featured alumni of the month, Trumaine gives insight on why he chose UM-Flint and accounting for his degrees, the professor that impacted his education the most, and helpful advice for students interested in pursuing a career in Accounting!

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A:  Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Accounting, 2014
Master of Science in Accounting (MSA), 2020

Q: Where are you currently working and your title? How long have you been in this position or at this organization? What is your job like day to day?
A: I’m currently working at the University of Michigan – Flint as an Accountant Associate. I’ve been in this position since May 2021. Prior to this position, I worked at CS Partners as an Accountant for 6 years.

My job on a day to day basis consists of creating, reviewing, and uploading journal entries; working on weekly and monthly financial reports for specific departments, and meeting with the specific departments to analyze and discuss the monthly financial reports.

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A: I chose to go into the career path of an accountant because I have always had a great interest and love for accounting. I enjoy working on budgets, completing monthly reports, and dealing with numbers and figures on a daily basis. During my time working at JPMorgan Chase Bank, I realized that I enjoyed being a part of working on the weekly financial reports, auditing each teller to make sure that their cash drawer balanced, and assisting customers on how to budget and manage their accounts. Because of experiences like these, I decided to attend UM-Flint and pursue accounting. I felt and believed that by receiving an accounting degree from UM-Flint, doors would be open for accounting opportunities.

Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your degree?
A: I always wanted to attend the University of Michigan as it is one of the top universities in the country. The university prides itself on being the Leaders and Best, and I wanted to be a part of its tradition. In addition, there were a few factors as to why I chose to attend UM-Flint. First, UM-Flint has one of the top business programs in the country. Second, UM-Flint offered flexible class options and schedules where I was able to take classes while still continue to work. Third, the campus of UM-Flint was closer to home which made the drive from home or work to the campus manageable.

Q: How did your education at UM-Flint prepare you for what you are doing today?
A: My education at UM-Flint has prepared me tremendously. Since receiving my Bachelor’s Degree from UM-Flint, I’ve been working in the field of accounting. Because of the excellent teachings from each professor along with the required courses taken, I’ve been able to apply all of the knowledge and training received from UM-Flint to my work experience which includes CS Partners for 6 years and currently here at UM-Flint.

Q: Who influenced you most during your time at UM-Flint and why?
A: During my time at UM-Flint, I was highly influenced by Dr. Keith Moreland who was the Professor of Accounting. I learned so much from him as he would challenge me in his classes daily to prepare, study hard, and work hard. I gained so much knowledge as Dr. Moreland was extremely knowledgeable and had a great passion for his profession. Seeing and experiencing those traits inspired me to always have a thirst for learning more and gaining knowledge about my career along with having a great passion for my profession and purpose.

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A: One of my proudest accomplishments so far is completing and receiving my accounting degree from UM-Flint and applying the degree to my current occupation as an Accountant Associate at UM-Flint.

Q: What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?
A: My advice for current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in accounting would be to inquire and learn more about the field of accounting which would include actions such as meeting with a former and/or current accountant at an accounting firm, talking with your professors at UM-Flint, and speaking with an alumni who is currently working as an accountant or working in the field of accounting. By performing these types of actions, not only would you gain a better understanding of the field of accounting, but the potential meetings and conversations could lead to gaining a mentor and/or open doors to internships. As for talking with your professors, it would be great to develop a rapport with them. When outside of class time, inquire and ask more in-depth questions about the field of accounting.

Q: Fun Facts!
A: I’m a big sports fan especially with football. Also, I’m a big Michigan sports fan as I want each individual and team to excel in every sport from football to softball. However, I’m a huge football fan as I have a passion for Michigan football!

SOM Alumna’s Enthusiasm for the Outdoors becomes a Career: September’s aMaizeing Alumni

Danielle Mauter earned her Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Marketing with a minor in graphic design from the University of Michigan-Flint in 2014. During her time as a student, Danielle had multiple internships, was a co-founder of the Marketing and Advertising Student Professionals club, and participated in other off-campus activities like coaching for a high school color guard squad and competing in the Genesee County Fair open exhibit classes. Danielle is currently the Chief of Marketing and Communications at the Huron-Clinton Metroparks which serves five southeast Michigan counties. She oversees marketing staff, improves media relations and partnerships in the region, and implements future-facing goals for the Huron-Clinton Metroparks. As our featured alumni of the month, Danielle describes her career path, her favorite memories as a student, why she went into the marketing field, and gives advice for those who want to pursue a career in marketing!

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A:  Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Marketing with a minor in graphic design, 2014

Q: Where are you currently working and your title? How long have you been in this position or at this organization? What is your job like day to day?
A: I am currently the Chief of Marketing and Communications at the Huron-Clinton Metroparks. I have been here since February 2019 (2.5 years). One of America’s premier metropolitan park systems, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks have served the people of Southeast Michigan since 1940. Managed by the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, the Metroparks are made up of 13 properties in Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties.

As much as I hate a cliché – it’s true that my job is different every day. I manage a small team and together we are responsible for promoting the Metroparks brand and communicating with the public and partners about activities, programs, events, and the general park experience. We maintain all the social media and web presence as well as communication pieces in print, digital, TV/Video, radio, and out-of-home spaces. Some days I spend time with my graphic designs reviewing and brainstorming ideas for ad artwork to fit our brand identity and then I shift to answering media phone calls, completing interviews, and writing press releases. Then other days I spend time in our parks capturing photos and generating content. Still other days I may spend with our organizations’ leadership team creating the “big picture” ideas of where the organization needs to be or go in the future and putting together our budget and ideas for the upcoming year. It is a truly rewarding job that always keeps me on my toes.

Q: Describe your career path.
A:  My career path started while I was still in college. I consider the five years I spent working part-time at Menards during school to really be the start of it. I was a shy kid in high school, but working in retail forced me to talk to customers and brought me out of my shell. I saw how merchandising worked and developed sales pitches to help customers finish their home improvement projects.

From there, all but one of my positions have been the first of their kind. I have stepped into roles that organizations have just created and have spent the majority of my career building brands and campaigns for organizations that created marketing departments or roles to help grow their business.
   
At the end of my second year of business school, I scored an internship with a small local business that organized and promoted fine art and craft shows and was looking to grow into new types of events. This was my first real-world experience in marketing where I was responsible for managing business social media accounts, booking and creating ad campaigns, organizing event details, and helping with bookkeeping. There were times that I was doing a lot of self-teaching, but it was a job I loved and really excelled at. I ended up staying with the company part-time for about 2 years.
   
After my first year with the show promotion company, I applied for and was offered a second internship at Nexteer Automotive completing marketing research for their future engineering department. It was a new role at the time and I was being supervised by engineers to find the possible market share for a possible future use of their technologies. It was a very self-guided project that resulted in me actually presenting my findings to members of their board. The presentation was a success and they continued to work on that project for a couple of years (as far as I know) after I left the organization. This is where I determined that marketing research wasn’t the only thing I wanted to spend my days on. I needed a mixture of marketing tasks to keep me happy.
   
After graduation (well actually slightly before), I took my first full-time position in marketing. I was the marketing professional at Wolverine Fire Protection Co. – a specialty contractor that designs and installs fire suppression systems across the country. I was the very first marketing staff person they had hired in their history. Here I had the chance to rebuild a brand from scratch. I took their existing logo and built a much more modern identity around it that includes a website overhaul, new letterhead and templates, new report and RFP style and format, building social media presence, new trade show materials, etc. I did spend a lot of my time working on proposals to win new projects because this is a B2B business. It was a great experience, but I quickly discovered I wanted to get back into the B2C world and a role where I was working on ad campaigns and more traditional marketing channels.
   
That is when I found the posting for a Marketing Specialist at Genesee County Parks. In this role, I was able to come in at the front of a brand refresh project in a B2C organization. I was able to work through updating all branded brochures, social media presence, and website AND create true marketing campaigns. I managed a marketing budget and a small staff of 1-3 (1 full-time and 1-2 interns at a time). I also got to do some event organizing and marketing utilizing the skills I earned in my first internship. I was hooked on the field of parks and recreation after my first six months there, and although I wasn’t the first person in that role, the role offered a lot of room for modernizing and making it my own with a fresh start.
   
I was at Genesee County Parks for almost 4 years when I took on my current role. It was a shift from a county park system to a regional parks system and managing a larger staff with more responsibilities. At the time I took my position at Huron-Clinton Metroparks, the role of Chief of Marketing and Communications was new and the Metroparks hadn’t had a consistent and organized marketing plan in over 30 years. I once again had the opportunity to come in and rebuild a brand starting with the brand refresh process and working through updating the brand identity and then working to build brand campaigns to improve brand recognition in Southeast Michigan and increase attendance. Additionally, I’m working to continually improve media relations and partnerships in the region and focused on public-facing storytelling to get our brand message across. As part of the executive leadership team, I also have the opportunity to be a part of the team the develops and guides the future-facing goals and plans for the organization.

Q: Why did you choose to attend UM-Flint for your degree(s)?
A:  I originally started college with a much different career path in mind. I chose UM-Flint at the time because I wanted to complete my prereqs while I worked toward transferring into UM-Ann Arbor’s Architecture program. While I did accomplish that – after two years at UM-Flint and one semester in Ann Arbor’s Architecture program, I decided it wasn’t actually making me happy and that I needed to change majors. When I did, I decided to come back to UM-Flint because the smaller campus was a much more personalized experience for me. The teachers were able to give individual students more attention and I felt like it was a better place for me to gain the education I needed to prepare for my career while still being more affordable than other big universities.

Q: Were you involved in any clubs or extracurriculars during your college experience? If so, what organizations/clubs?
A:  I was a co-founder of Marketing and Advertising Student Professionals at the time. Was involved in other activities off campus including coaching for a high school color guard squad, riding four-wheelers, and competing in the Genesee County Fair open exhibit classes and queen pageant.

Q: How did your education at UM-Flint prepare you for what you are doing today?
A:  In my business classes I had a diverse set of students. Unlike some universities where everyone is fresh out of high school and living in dorms, my classes were a mix of “traditional” college students, older return-to-learn students with careers and full-time jobs already and students from abroad. Being paired up in group projects and discussions with those unique perspectives allowed me to think differently and really discuss what we were learning in class. That combined with the internship and hands-on experiences that I gained through the career center and the student org we started helped propel me into realizing what my career could be. I’ll admit I didn’t really know what type of marketing role I wanted to be in while I was in college. It was really helpful to take two very different internships over the course of my four years. The first one was in event marketing and allowed me to use my creativity and graphic designer minor and I loved being on the B2C side. The second was in marketing research which I thought would make more money and I would love the numbers side. I discovered that I didn’t love it as much as I loved creating B2C campaigns and using my creative side. That helped me determine that I ultimately wanted to end up the head of a marketing department somewhere.

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A:  I weaved my answer to this into my career path answer. It had a lot to do with my experience at each role I’ve had in showing me the pieces I did and didn’t like in each of my roles.

Q: What is the most important thing you learned while you were at UM-Flint? 
A:  I would say that the most important thing I learned during my time at UM-Flint is the benefit of applied experience. I had teachers and internship opportunities through campus resources that allowed me to work on real-world projects. That type of experience can’t be read in a textbook. Those hands-on experiences allowed me to apply what I was learning in class (and do a little research and self-teaching along the way) and propelled me further into career options that I never expected. Had I not taken the chance on those opportunities, I don’t think I would be as far in my career as I am today. I learned that you have to put the work in, but when you do, everything starts to click and it makes it all worth it.

Q: What is one of your favorite events you attended or classroom experiences at UM-Flint? Why?
A:  I remember my classroom experiences more than events, and it’s hard for me to pick one. I actually have a few that stick out in my mind. I had professor Laurence for organizational behavior and I always found his lessons really interesting. It really brought the concepts of inter-office relations and management into a realistic perspective. He was also always willing to help outside of class or give advice and he wrote me a great letter of recommendation that helped me land my first job. I also really enjoyed my international business class (although I don’t remember my professor’s name). At the time, I thought I wanted to end up in an international business and his lessons often brought a hands-on component. One specific time is when he brought in silkworms for us to eat. I originally felt I could be brave and try it, but ultimately ended up chickening out. But it was still a really impactful lesson for other cultures.

Q: What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?
A:   I have a couple pieces of advice. First, treat every job like a great opportunity. What I mean is open your eyes and ears and soak up as much experience as you can. A lot of students don’t consider their part-time retail jobs as “experience” on their resumes and in interviews, but it is! When I’m talking to students I remind them to think about those jobs differently and decide what those jobs have taught them that they can carry into an organization. Maybe it’s communication skills or sales skills or merchandising ideas from someone who has actually had to stock shelves before. It’s all valuable in different ways.
   
Also, graphic design experience today is really important. Even if you can’t do it yourself, you should have an understanding of the principles, terminology, and technology used. In my role, I supervise graphic designers, but in previous roles, I’ve had to be both the marketing person and the graphic designer. A lot of companies are looking for dual roles and even if they aren’t, you need to understand the principles of what works and looks good to consumers when your reviewing and approving billboards vs print ads vs social media content. So I recommend taking some graphic design courses while you’re still in school or in some other capacity after school. It will make you more marketable in the job force.

Q: What is a long-term career or professional goal you have for yourself?
A: When I think a few years back, my long-term goal was to become a chief marketing officer (CMO) somewhere. I had no idea that I would have the opportunity to realize that goal by the time I was 30. Now I’ve been so busy building that role for 2.5 years and through a pandemic that brought record attendance to parks everywhere, that I haven’t really stopped to think what my next long-term goal should be in my career. My goal is always to continue growing and improving the organization I work for. Professionally, in the parks and rec field, there is a certification called CPRP (certified parks and recreational professional). I do have a goal for myself to obtain that one day and to stay in the parks and recreation field.

Q: What is something people may not know about you?
A: In the professional world people tend to see a petite, fair-skinned, young, blonde woman and generate certain assumptions about me. However, I have often surprised people when they discover my hobbies include riding four-wheelers, and side by sides, getting dirty, fishing, hunting, photography (I even had my own business for a short period of time) and all things outdoors. My honeymoon trip to Alaska was my absolute favorite vacation. I listen to all types of music from rock to hip hop to country, I’m a dedicated dog mom and I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves and help with projects of all kinds including tending to my small flock of chickens and home renovation projects at my husband and I’s house in the country or cabin in the woods.

Accounting (MS) Alumni Transitions from Student to Future Instructor: July’s aMaizeing Alumni

Alumnus, John Schlaack, received his Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) in 2019 from the University of Michigan-Flint. John currently works in the IT/Accounting field in the automotive industry for the last 30+ years and is now starting his journey on his “second career” as a university instructor. He is currently enrolled in a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program. As our featured Alumni of the month, John comments on how his MSA degree will influence his future teaching career, advice for students or recent grads interested in the accounting field, and more!

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A:  Master of Science in Accounting (MSA), 2019

Q: Pursuing another degree?
A: Currently enrolled in a DBA program.

Q: Where are you currently working and your title? How long have you been in this position or at this organization? What is your job like day to day?
A: I am employed at Martinrea International as the Global IT Director. I have been employed in this position for the past 2 1/2 years.

I am responsible for the implementation, development, and support of Global ERP systems. This includes the creation of new functionalities to meet company or customers’ requirements.

Q: Describe your career path.
A: I have worked in the Accounting and IT functions in the automotive industry for over 30 years. Earlier I had the opportunity to teach at the university and am now completing my doctoral program in accounting to start my “second” career.

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A: Always favored subjects that were analytical and have enjoyed the opportunity of being on global projects implementing financial systems.

Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your degree?
A: After graduating, I enrolled in a doctoral in accounting program. This MSA at UM-Flint and this doctoral program will help me prepare for my second career as a university instructor.

Q: What is the most important thing you learned while you were at UM-Flint? What is the most important thing you learned while you were at UM-Flint?  
A: The need to interact with faculty and classmates to get a fuller picture of the subject matter.

Q: Who influenced you most during your time at UM-Flint and why?
A: Each professor was excellent and added to my education.

Q: Share your best college memory.
A: Each class initiated coursework online, and filled in the blanks when I got to attend class time and interact with instructors and fellow classmates.

Q: How did your education at UM-Flint prepare you for what you are doing today?
A: After graduating, I enrolled in a doctoral in accounting program. The MSA program at UM-Flint and this doctoral program will help me prepare for my second career as a university instructor.

Q: What is one of your favorite events you attended or classroom experiences at UM-Flint? Why?
A: In the Accounting Systems course, the professor gave an overview of setting up databases needed for the course final project. I was missing a few important steps. After sitting through his instruction, a light bulb went off!

Q: What is a long-term career or professional goal you have for yourself?
A: As I near completion of my first career in manufacturing accounting and information systems, I am finalizing my preparation for my second career in teaching the skills I have learned over the past number of years.

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A: Completion of my MSA at UM-Flint, and the attendance of my family at the graduation.

Q: What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?
A: Having a strong understanding of accounting and system logic (i.e., database management) is crucial in all fields of business. Understand that education does not stop when you graduate. Continuing education and skill development never stops!

Q: Fun Facts!
A: Favorite vacation was a trip to Arizona for college and Cactus League baseball!

Alum Invests and Overcomes Everyday Challenges: June’s aMaizeing Alumni

Alumnus, Edward F Walterhouse II, graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with his Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Finance. He was a member of Beta Alpha Psi- National Honors Fraternity and the Treasurer of the National Honor Society of Leadership & Success during his time as a student. Edward is a licensed financial advisor in Grand Blanc, MI, and maintains client relationships while researching market trends and running marketing campaigns. As our featured Alumni of the month, Edward gives insight on his favorite classroom experience, his long-term career goal, and his proudest accomplishment as a Financial Advisor.

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A: Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) – Finance 2018.

Q: Pursuing another degree?
A: Currently studying for Certified Financial Planner Certification

Q: Where are you currently working and your title? How long have you been in this position or at this organization?
A: I am a Financial Advisor with the Walterhouse Faris Group at Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC in Grand Blanc, MI. I have been in this industry for six years; four years as an intern and two as a fully licensed financial advisor.

Q: What is your job like day to day?
A: Each week brings new opportunities and challenges. I research investments while monitoring current market environments including equity, fixed income, and alternatives. I act as a fiduciary and contacting clients to discuss rebalancing their portfolio. This is an important objective in my role as of lately. I also create personal financial plans through our software by inputting client’s quantitative data. I present and share that financial plan with them in a meeting discussing their qualitative data, goals, and aspirations.

Our team meets with clients annually/bi-annually, and sometimes quarterly to review their portfolios and track their progress towards their financial goals/retirement goals. Networking and running marketing campaigns is also a part of my role to create awareness of the capabilities of my financial team and expand our fiduciary imprint to future potential clients.

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A: I chose this career path because of the need for financial literacy as the world becomes more and more technology-driven, especially in the finance world. The finance sector is also becoming more complex for consumers requiring a need for financial guidance and help.

Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your degree?
A: I transferred to UM-Flint to experience a University of Michigan education and the close proximity to my home. I also was able to work and get a great education while not accumulating too much student debt.

Q: Who influenced you most during your time at UM-Flint and why?
A: My small group of friends was a large influence through my years at UM-Flint. We worked on projects together and studied for tests together at Riverfront and sometimes the library. They held me accountable and vice versa. In hindsight, this is something I think is crucial for college students to develop within their classes, not only to do well in that class but to retain information and hear different perspectives on class topics.

Q: Were you involved in any clubs or extracurriculars during your college experience? If so, what organizations/clubs?
A: Treasurer of National Honor Society of Leadership & Success 2017-2018, Beta Alpha Psi- National Honors Fraternity of Finance 2017-2018

Q: What is one of your favorite events you attended or classroom experiences at UM-Flint? Why?
A: I truly enjoyed working and meeting with the group of individuals on the board of the National Honor Society of Leadership & Success during my time as Treasurer. I also enjoyed a late project in my academic career for an investment class where we had to pitch a stock to the Dean of the School of Management. This project was truly engaging and to this day it has influenced my approach to researching investments for clients.

Q: What is a long-term career or professional goal you have for yourself?
A: My long-term career goal is to make an impact in people’s financial lives and on our local communities as a whole. Spread financial literacy throughout Genesee County and help fuel this Flint Michigan comeback. This will take time and consistency but right now time is on my side.

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A: My proudest accomplishments are when I am able to input quantitative data into our financial planning software and present the results to the clients showing them that their hard work, savings discipline, and investing early in their life has paid off. The looks on their faces when they recognize they are able to retire comfortably, spend time with family, travel, and enjoy their hobbies is the best part of my job. I’ve learned in my few years in the industry that financial peace of mind is priceless.

Q: Fun Facts!
A: My bucket list includes a trip to Greece or Lebanon to visit the roots of my family tree.

Kira Rouser BBA '16

Forecasting Her Future: February’s aMaizeing Alumni

By Alexis Menard on February 25, 2021 2:40 PM

Alumna, Kira Rouser graduated with honors from UM-Flint’s School of Management with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting in 2016. Kira is a Senior Financial Analyst and oversees budgeting and forecasting at the company she works for. In her career, she interacts with Sales and department leaders to make accurate forecasting predictions and say’s each day brings something new! As our featured Alumni of the month, Kira gives insight on why she choose UM-Flint and advice for students and alumni considering becoming a Financial Analyst.

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A: BBA in Accounting, 2016

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 have been working at InfuSystem as a Sr. Financial Analyst for a year now. I help support the budgeting and forecasting process for the company, but what that looks like on a day-to-day basis varies (which is part of the reason I love my job). Some days I am spending the majority of my time interacting with our Sales group with a focus on updating the latest revenue forecast, other days I’m meeting with department leaders reviewing expenses from prior periods and updating what the months ahead look like. Each day holds something new!

Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your degree?
A:
I picked UM-Flint because of its accessibility; Flint is my home and holds a big place in my heart, so being able to stick close to home while pursuing my bachelor’s degree was great. UM-Flint is a great school and offers so much to its students. The fact that I was able to get a fantastic education in a small community setting was something that helped me more than I recognized at the time I was attending. 

Q: What is one of your favorite experiences at UM-Flint?
A:
My favorite experience was the interaction I had with the people there. The professors, staff and my fellow students were amazing. I made some really good connections there and I know that I would not be where I am in my career without the people that I met at UM-Flint.

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A:
A: I have always loved managing finances so it was a natural fit for me.  

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A:
Getting promoted to Sr. Analyst was by far my proudest career accomplishment.

Q: What advice would you give students that are thinking of pursuing a career in your field?
A:
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. I think oftentimes when you’ve committed to a particular area of study (accounting or finance) you think that you should be an expert, but that’s not always true. You should aspire and work towards being knowledgeable in your area of focus, but the reality is that when you first start off you’re not at that expert level. If you ask the right people the right questions you’ll put yourself on track to being successful at what you do. 

Q: Fun Facts!
A:
I love interior design!   

Kayla Laird Alumni 2020

A Recent Grad’s Transition to a full-time Entrepreneur Operating Three Small Businesses: January’s aMaizeing Alumni

By Alexis Menard on January 29, 2021 4:55 pm

Alumna, Kayla Laird graduated with honors from UM-Flint’s School of Management with a BBA in Entrepreneurship & Innovation Management in 2020. Before transferring to UM-Flint, Kayla attended C.S. Mott Community College where she earned her Associates of Arts and Associates of Business Administration. 

Kayla currently owns and operates three businesses full-time;  Lord Laird’s Premium Lemonade®, Queen Netzo Jewelry, and Mobars. In November, she won the Pitch 4K competition and is currently participating in another business pitch competition to try to win an additional $11,000. 

As our featured Alumni of the month, Kayla gives insight into her experiences at UM-Flint, her proudest accomplishment of winning more than $8,000 for her businesses, why she became an entrepreneur, and advice for students that are considering being their own boss. 

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A: University of Michigan-Flint – Entrepreneurship & Innovation Management, BBA 2020 – Honors

Q: Pursuing another degree?
A: Not currently, maybe in the near future I’ll go for my Masters!

Q: Where are you currently working and what is your title? How long have you been in this position or at this organization? What is your normal day to day?
A: I have finally made the switch from working as a Project Manager at 100K Ideas into becoming a full-time, self-employed, multi-passionate entrepreneur! I am a young entrepreneur with a passion for creating healthy and sustainable products.

I currently have two businesses, the first, Lord Laird’s Premium Lemonade®, specializing in all-organic health drinks, and Queen Netzo Jewelry, specializing in handmade wire-wrapped Swarovski Crystal® rings in memory of my mother Kennette Laird.

When I began to get into jewelry at the age of 7, my mother was battling breast cancer. With the help of my Aunt Myra, I started a new hobby making all sorts of jewelry. Whenever I would visit, my aunt would always be making a new necklace, bracelet, or earrings of some sort. She taught me all of the basic techniques I needed to know in order to make creations with integrity. I made jewelry for my mother to wear as well as everyone who helped around the house during that time of need. With my dad being a pillar of support of my passion, the name “Queen Netzo Jewelry” has stuck ever since 2007. I felt the need to keep the name because it reminds me that she will always be the QUEEN in my heart.

I am currently developing a new business called Mobars, specializing in creating homemade luxe energy bars made with everyday essentials for a great breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, or even dessert!

I have been an entrepreneur since the age of eight, always having the desire to become a businesswoman, looking to market, sale, and make a profit. On a normal day to day, I usually start my morning off with an hour workout. After working out, it usually gives me all the energy I need for the day to either produce 12+ gallons of lemonade, 100+ Mobars, or create new Swarovski Crystal rings for my customers. It’s been a great transition especially being able to remain stable during a pandemic. I am so excited for what is to come! ♡

Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your BBA?
A: I have always known The University of Michigan to be a top-tier school! I was so glad that I could get a quality education for a fraction of the cost at the UM-Flint branch. It’s such a great school for entrepreneurship and innovation, and it’s also close to home, which I love!

Q: What is one of your favorite experiences at UM-Flint?
A: Meeting my favorite professor MRS. RITAAAAAA FIELDS has been one of the best experiences I have ever had. Going to her classes were by far the most fun I had during college.

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A: I’ve always wanted to be my own boss, so it only made sense to be an entrepreneur!

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A: Winning over $8,070 for my businesses has been one of my proudest accomplishments thus far. Currently, I am in a pitch competition to win up to $11,000 and I could not be more excited!!

Q: What advice would you give students that are thinking of pursuing a career as an entrepreneur?
A: My advice would be the following:

  • Follow your passion
  • Do your research
  • Invest in learning
  • Challenge yourself
  • Add value to other people’s lives
  • Find like-minded people to hang around
  • Take the risk!
  • Learn from mistakes
  • & Tell your story.

Q: Fun Facts!
A: I am from Maryland! I own and operate 3 businesses! andddd, I am currently ENGAGED and will be getting married later this year!

Alumnus returns to Wolverine State to progress Strategy Career: December’s aMaizeing Alumni

By Alexis Menard On December 22, 2020 2:15 pm

Skott Schoonover , BBA ’11

Alumnus Skott Schoonover graduated from UM-Flint’s School of Management with a BBA in Business Management in 2011. Skott recently accepted a job that brought him back to his home state of Michigan as a Strategy Analyst. During his time at UM-Flint, he was a member of the Entrepreneurs Society, International Business Students Organization, and the Spanish Club. He also attended many football games in the Michigan Big House.

As our featured alumni of the month, Skott gives advice for students thinking of pursuing a career in strategy/analytics, how he chose his career path, and projects he’s been working on in quarantine, such as writing two children’s books!

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A: Bachelors of Business Management, 2011

Q: Pursuing another degree?
A: Not currently, but I plan to get my Master’s at some point

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’m a Strategy Analyst at Percepta, which is a subsidiary of Ford, focusing on technology innovations to improve the customer experience. I’ve been with the company for two months.

I spent the previous 7 years at the Enterprise corporate office as a Revenue Management Consulting Analyst. My role was to set rates and determine fleet mix/availability to increase profitability in the North American markets

Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your degree(s)?
A: It offered a top tier education, with the class size of a much smaller university. I wanted a degree that was going to hold prestige, and I also wanted to have engagement in class, to not just be one of 300 other students in an auditorium.

Q: What is one of your favorite experiences at UM-Flint?
A: I worked with the Entrepreneurs Society to partner with Habitat For humanity and a few local groups to conceptualize and build HFH’s first “Work-Live Space” which has become a model used across the country.

And while not UM-Flint specific, Saturday afternoons in the student section at the Big House are an experience that I’ll hold in reverence for the rest of my life. It’s something I highly encourage all UM-Flint students to take advantage of!

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A: I’m an outside-the-box thinker, who is always looking for ways to improve everything. With innovation in my blood, Strategy was the logical choice.

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far
A: Being asked to become an international Revenue Management Consultant was a very proud accomplishment. I had to learn new markets, exchange rates, and customer buying habits. It was incredibly rewarding to be asked to take on such a challenging project and to have success in the role.

Q: What advice would you give students that are thinking of pursuing a career in your field?
A: Be open to opportunities that aren’t what you think you’re looking for, Be willing to put in the hard work necessary to succeed, And be honest with yourself on your strengths, weaknesses, and what truly motivates you.

And with anything in life, Hard Work = Good Luck

Q: Fun Facts!
A:
– During quarantine, I wrote two children’s books that I’m currently trying to get illustrated and published.
– I’ve been in a band that put out an EP.
– And after seven years away, my new position is in Michigan, I’m very excited to be back in the Wolverine State!

MBA Alumnus uses Financial Skills to Add Value to Post-Acute Care Company: August’s aMaizeing Alumni

By Alexis Menard On August 21, 2020 3:30 pm

McCoy Wilson, MBA ’14

Alumnus, McCoy Wilson graduated from UM-Flint with his Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Finance in 2014. During his time at UM-Flint, he was apart of diverse student organizations, such as Black Student Union and InterVasity. McCoy is a Sales Operations Financial Manager and played a key role in his company by creating and implementing a new data reporting program. As our featured Alumni of the month, McCoy gives insight into his experience with student organizations, career advice, and his future travel plans to Spain!

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A: MBA in Finance (2014)

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’m currently working at Encompass Health, Dallas, Texas as Sales Operations Financial Manager. I have been with Encompass Health for 3 years. I oversee the design and distribute compensation plans, report payout data, and ensure timely and accurate compensation. I create and manage reports, forecasts, metrics and dashboards for our sales team.

Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your degree(s)?
A: Both the academic reputation of the School of Management and the school’s vast alumni network influenced my decision.

Q: What is one of your favorite experiences at UM-Flint?
A: I lived on campus for a year and I enjoyed the various student activities. I was a member of InterVasity student organization and the African Students Union. Being around such a diverse population of students was both exciting and somewhat of a cultural shock for me.

It was awesome to meet, interact and collaborate with people of different backgrounds, ethnicities and beliefs. And that’s an important aspect of higher education – the ability to learn from many others who bring their own personal and cultural experiences to the table for the benefit of alls.

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A: I was drawn to this career path because it appeals to my passion and proclivity for management and strategy, data and analytics. Undoubtedly, the School of Management’s classes introduced me to concepts and skills that prepared me for this.

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A: I played a key role in creating and implementing a new data reporting program which is currently being used to ensure timely and accurate compensation.

Q: What advice would you give students that are thinking of pursuing a career in your field?
A: Always look for the opportunity to interact and learn from other students and faculty. I benefited a lot from the virtues of group work. These smaller group settings provide platforms that stimulate creativity and intellectual curiosity.

My job as a Sales Operations Financial Manager is based on my communication, interpersonal and problem-solving skills, and working with different groups on class projects was fundamental to the development of these skills.

Q: Fun Facts!
A: I am making plans to visit the Camp Nou soccer stadium in Barcelona, Spain next year. Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe with a seating capacity of 99,354. I really hope my team, FC Barcelona, wins on the day I visit. That would make my experience more memorable.

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.