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.
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.
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
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 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!
Alumna, Monique Lawler (Roberts) graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing. Since her time at UM-Flint, she has gone on to work in a Commercial Real Estate (CRE) field and identifies trends in the market. She and her friends also created a non-profit to promote gender equity in underserved communities. As our featured Alumni of the month, Monique gives insight into how she ended up in CRE, why she chose UM-Flint as well as her favorite experiences at the university.
Q: Degree(s) and graduation year: A: Bachelor of Business Administration–Marketing, 2011
Q: Pursuing another degree? A: Not currently. I enrolled in an MBA program, but decided to put my enrollment on hold to pursue other endeavors.
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 in Commercial Real Estate (CRE), as a Research Analyst for Cushman & Wakefield’s Memphis affiliate office (Commercial Advisors); I have been in this position for a year. My normal day-to-day consists of identifying trends in the market, creating drive-times, demographic profiles, void analyses and fulfilling ad-hoc research requests.
Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your degree(s)? A: The convenience of having one of the top-ranking universities on the world in my hometown was a huge factor. Course selection, campus activities and culture were other major factors in choosing UM-Flint.
Q: What is one of your favorite experiences at UM-Flint? A: One of my favorite experiences was a CIS project that involved working with local veterans, helping them navigate, understand, and utilize resources available to Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSB).
Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in? A: I was pre-med for four years, then decided on a whim that I wanted to learn more about consumer behavior, and the methodology behind it. That led me to analytics and somehow landed me in CRE.
Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far? A: Not to sound cliché’, but my proudest accomplishments are my teenage daughter—who’s considering UM as her top college choice, and my beautifully tenacious 3-year old son. I am also proud of my friends and I for establishing a non-profit organization to promote gender equity in underserved communities.
Q: What advice would you give students that are thinking of pursuing a career in your field? A: I would tell them to go for it!! Especially BIPoC, because there is such an untapped gap in professionals of Color in CRE; I say challenge the status quo!
Q: Fun Facts! A: Although I am not currently pursuing another degree, I am pursuing (and hold) several certifications in my favorite hobbies and interests. I’m a certified personal trainer, I hold a TEFL certification to teach English as a Second Language, I’m pursuing my yoga-training certification and I’m currently undergoing Commissions to become a Notary/Loan Signing Agent in my state.
Alumna, Gina Dillon graduated from UM-Flint’s School of Management with a BBA in Marketing in 2013. Gina was recently promoted to Senior Client Lead at a global customer data science company headquartered in the United Kingdom. She has always been intrigued by consumer behavior and “why behind the by,” and also enjoys the customer data analysis within her career. As our featured Alumni of the month, Gina gives insight into her experiences at UM-Flint, why she went into an analytics-based career path, and advice for students thinking of pursuing a career in marketing.
Q: Degree(s) and graduation year A: Bachelor of Business Administration (Marketing), 2013
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 am a Senior Client Lead for a UK-based company called dunnhumby (dh). I’ve been with dh since June 2019 and was promoted (from Client Lead) in August 2020. In my role, I help a large local grocery retailer perfect the science of shopping through customer data analysis.
Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your degree(s)? A: I really enjoyed the convenience of the campus being so close to home, flexible course formats and top-quality instruction.
Q: What is one of your favorite experiences at UM-Flint? A: My first year at UM-Flint, I captained a team for the Relay for Life lock-in event. It was fun to participate in such a unique on-campus experience while raising money for a good cause.
Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in? A: My favorite course at UM-Flint was BUS 338: Consumer Behavior with Dan Lake. I’ve always been most intrigued by the “why behind the buy,” which is how I ended up taking an analytics-based path for my career.
Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far? A: Outside of my beautiful 5-year-old daughter, I’ve been proud to volunteer my time and financial resources to various community-based organizations. The causes closest to my heart are kids, civil rights and the environment.
Q: What advice would you give students that are thinking of pursuing a career in your field? A: Go for it! Pursue what you’re passionate about. My role is heavily focused on interpersonal relationship building and a passion for improving the lives of consumers.
Q: Fun Facts! A: I’ve loved the University of Michigan since I was a little girl. I used to shoot hoops with my dad in a Chris Webber jersey, and my entire bedroom was covered in all things “Wolverine,” down to my bed comforter and waste basket!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.