While the past academic year was full of challenges and unknowns, a student organization at the UM-Flint School of Management rose above these obstacles to meet their goals in a virtual environment and received recognition at the University of Michigan-Flint.
SHRM received the Outstanding Student Organization Award. The co-advisors for SHRM, Brian Blume, Professor of Organizational Behavior & HR Management, and Gerald Knesek, Lecturer IV of Management, were awarded the Outstanding Student Organization Advisor(s).
The former SHRM President, Alexis Menard, BBA ‘21 in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management and Marketing, reflected on how SHRM built up to their success in 2021.
“In Fall 2019, we focused on building a foundation for SHRM and in February 2020 we hosted our largest in-person event with 40 attendees at the Unconscious Bias in the Workplace event with Dr. Luke, Director of the Intercultural Center. Students from across campus came together to identify how bias and the processes of the unconscious mind can impact your decision-making,” said Menard.
“This was the moment where we realized how much of an impact a student organization can have and we found a niche to fulfill at UM-Flint,” said Menard.
SHRM’s mission is to help students at UM-Flint by providing educational, networking, volunteer, and leadership opportunities to their members. SHRM also assists all UM-Flint students with resumes/interviewing, offering student professional development, and more to help students efficiently prepare to get an internship or career opportunity while in college.
“One of the goals of SHRM is to help students make connections and advance in their professional/personal development. SHRM has the best faculty advisors helping us meet our mission. I’m delighted Brian and Gerry received the Outstanding Advisor Award because they really deserve it. They are both educators who go above and beyond to support students in and outside of the classroom. They are great mentors and I have been inspired and impacted by both of them,” said Menard.
The organization hosted seven monthly events in the 2020-2021 academic year, ranging from networking, panel discussions, speaking engagements on hot topics, and resume improvement. UM-Flint students and SHRM members also participated in their first SHRM case competition at SHRM UMICH and Greater Ann Arbor SHRM chapters.
“Although COVID-19 has impacted many student organizations at UM-Flint, I strongly feel as though more people that weren’t originally able to commute to the campus have now been able to be involved,” said Blume, SHRM’s co-advisor. “SHRM has new members from around the nation and have seen engagement from students that lived one or more hours away from campus joining our virtual events.”
The SHRM officers will continue to cater to all members of the UM-Flint community when the University returns in-person in the fall. The organization also has more plans to engage online with members at the UM-Flint campus.
SHRM Treasurer, Erik Johnson, BBA ‘23 in International Business and Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management, is working on an all-inclusive podcast that will anonymously interview people of all occupations about their careers in a tell all format. SHRM will use the stories of students and alumni to help guide members of the UM-Flint community.
Another SHRM officer, Secretary, Elayna Moore, BBA ‘23 in Marketing and Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management, made great strides to improve SHRM’s online presence. She worked with the Office of Online & Digital Education to create a Blackboard group so the organization can collaborate and connect with each other in between meetings and offer more networking opportunities. In fall 2021, they plan to roll out more planned content such as discussion boards, videos for new members on the missions of SHRM, and post recorded events or meeting notes.
“Overall, we were able to accomplish a lot being remote. We hosted our first annual HR Alumni Panel and invited UM-Flint alumni to present their experiences. We had two alumni present from out of state in California and New York and that’s something we couldn’t have done without the technology resources the campus has provided us,” said Menard.
The SHRM faculty advisors, Brian Blume and Gerald Knesek, actively give the responsibility to the students in the organization for the daily operations, such as lining up speakers for events or advertising. The co-advisors give freedom to the members to pursue what interests them, but they also provide ideas or suggestions based on their combined expertise.
In previous years, SHRM members would host a Rapid Resume event where SHRM offers detailed critiques and comments on resumes before career fairs. Blume suggested SHRM members host the event virtual during the Winter 2021 semester. The SHRM officers previously mentioned along with Vice President, Allison von Daggenhausen, BS ‘21 in Communications and minor in Human Resources Management, devised a plan to review resumes for two weeks in March 2021 with the help and guidance from Antonio Riggs, School of Management Career Planning Counselor. The SHRM officers reviewed 31 resumes of UM-Flint students from all disciplines and directly supported SHRM’s initiates that students are career-ready.
In addition, Gerald Knesek suggested that SHRM officers attend a Civility Project session to see if this would be a good fit to bring to UM-Flint. The Civility Project features two journalists with opposing viewpoints on how to be more civil in your own life.
“The idea behind SHRM is to create better workplaces where all employees thrive. The Civility Project is a forum for modeling respect for each other and opposing viewpoints,” said Knesek. This turned out to be the largest SHRM event of the year to conclude the 2020/2021 academic year.
“We had a great year thanks to the leadership provided by Alexis, the officers, and great participation from all the members. It really is the students that make the club successful,” said Blume and Knesek reflecting on SHRM accomplishments.
Jay’la Rivers, BBA ‘21 in Accounting and Finance, and Za’Taia Shelby, BBA ‘21 in Accounting and Finance, studied together and were both members of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) during their time as students at UM-Flint School of Management.
Rivers and Shelby graduated with high honors in April 2021 and were awarded multiple awards.
Shelby received the Outstanding Student Award in Accounting which is given to the top student majoring in accounting from the School of Management. This award is chosen by area faculty and is only given to one or two students per semester that have excelled in their studies.
Rivers received the Maize and Blue Distinguished Scholar Award, the most prestigious and highest academic award bestowed to no more than 26 graduates per year that have shown great character, talent, and service to the university and community.
Both graduates excelled during their time at UM-Flint and received internships at Big Four Accounting Firms during their undergraduate career. We invite you to read a Q&A about these shining examples of perseverance and dedicated students from our UM-Flint SOM community.
Q: Were there obstacles you had to overcome to attend UM-Flint? How were you able to do that?
Rivers: My biggest obstacle was my lack of funds. I applied to the university just a few months before classes started so getting everything situated was a challenge from the beginning. I made sure to constantly call the university and check in with financial aid to make sure everything was in order to start the semester.
Shelby: I did not have to overcome any obstacles to attend UM-Flint. The toughest decision was just making the final decision on whether to attend the university or not. I graduated high school as valedictorian and I was offered the Chancellor Scholar Award to attend UM-Flint. After that, it was no doubt that I would be completing my undergraduate degree here.
Q: What are your plans after graduation? How/when did you know that is what you wanted to do or major in?
Rivers: After graduation I plan to work part time for PricewaterhouseCooper (PWC) while attending graduate school. I knew I wanted to major in accounting in high school. I have always had an interest in math and being challenged so once I took an accounting class the dots connected.
Shelby: After graduation, I will be working full-time as a Forensic Accountant at one of the big four accounting firms, Ernst & Young (EY). I figured out that I wanted to become a Forensic Accountant once I took a career test senior year of high school. My high school had to reduce our budget, so all of our accounting classes were cut my freshman year of high school. Since I had no prior experience in accounting, coming to college I was a little weary about still choosing accounting as my major. However, once I took my first accounting course with Professor John Stephens, I fell in love with accounting.
Q: What professional development activities did you attend offered by your student organization?
Rivers: I always attended career fairs. Rather I knew the companies that were going to be there or not I made sure to show my face and socialize. I also attended a variety of student organization events as well as the CPA 101 events.
Shelby: I attended multiple career conventions that included interviews with top Fortune 500 companies, interview advice workshops, internship advice workshops, meet and greets with these companies, and CPA seminars/ workshops. Moreover, this included us networking with people we have never met and building long lasting relationships.
Q: Did these professional development activities prepare you for future career goals?
Rivers: Every professional event helped me prepare for my future career goals in some way, big or small. Each event highlighted something about the professional world or accounting in general that I used to get me where I am today. A number of events introduced me to different people that presented me with great opportunities. If I didn’t learn something about the professional world at an event, I learned how to adjust something in my life to success in the professional world.
Shelby: Yes! One of my number one goals coming to college was learning how to network and this group taught me just that. In addition, I was able to gain insight from top companies to see what they actually sought in interns/new hires, and I was able to grow these skills along with my current skills. In addition, I was able to receive 7 internship offers, and build a relationship with Ernst & Young.
Q: What did you learn or value most from your internship?
Rivers: I valued the experience of working in an accounting firm as well as working during a busy season. Busy season is always introduced as something almost impossible or scary to be in but working an internship during busy season helped me realize it is not what it is made out to be. Yes, it is very time consuming and challenging but it’s also a great learning opportunity and an even better growing opportunity.
Shelby: The number one thing that I learned from my internships was to be hungry. To further explain, they did not want to just give me the work and I just be satisfied. They wanted me to ask more questions, dig more into the ‘why’ of things, contribute my ideas, seek out more work, and grow comfortable communicating with anyone on any level of the company.
Q: How did your internship help you or help you prepare for the ‘real world’?
Rivers: My internship allowed me to do a test run in my future job. I was treated no different than a first-year associate. The firm made sure I was well trained and prepared to work on clients at intern level as well at an associate level. I was given responsibilities and was expected to work through them in a sensible way. Working at my internship allowed me to develop into a better professional and an extra glance into ‘real world’.
Shelby: My internships taught me not to settle for what is just handed to me if I know I deserve more. This is a very valuable life lesson because it taught me that I should not settle for a good opportunity, but always strive after a great opportunity. For example, a lot of companies either did not have a Forensic Accountant position or the position was for someone who had at least been with the company 4+ years. As a result, many companies would just offer the options to go into audit or tax, but I did not settle which resulted in me obtaining a Forensic Accounting position at Ernst & Young right after I graduate college.
Q: How did the internship contribute to what you learned in the classroom?
Rivers: Every firm is different and has different systems. So, I learned many new concepts, software’s, and techniques that I was not introduced to in the classroom. Going back into the classroom after each internship gave me an advantage. I was able to relate actual client work back to the textbooks and work to understand it better.
Shelby: The more knowledge I had from school, the more beneficial it was for the company I was interning with. Furthermore, I would always ask co-workers from the company’s that I interned with for advice on courses to take to help me further reach my goals.
Q: How did the internship give you an advantage when looking for a full-time job after graduation?
Rivers: My internship gave me a huge advantage when looking for a full-time position because they offered me one after the internship was over.
Shelby: When companies saw my experience coupled with my academic background, it made me stand out. By doing multiple internships, it helped me determine the type of accounting that I did or did not want to do after graduating college. So, by learning what I did or did not like about certain positions in accounting, I was able to determine which accounting position would be most beneficial to me before even graduating college.
Q: Anything else you would like to add about your undergrad experiences, UM-Flint, profs, favorite courses, etc.
Rivers: It is important to take advantage of every opportunity given. Everything that the school of management does is for the students’ benefit and to give the students the resources they need to go forward in their career. Never be afraid to ask for help and never tell yourself no first.
Shelby: Along with your major courses, the technology courses will give you an advantage on the computer skills sought by companies. Taking additional entry level courses in computers will be beneficial because the more you know about technology, the more of an asset you are making yourself for the company. Also, make sure you do as many internships as you can because they will give you hands-on experience plus let you compare the actual course work to the actual position you will be working. Oftentimes, the course work can be very immense, but once you experience the actual position you can learn that there is some type of technology that makes it easier to do the course work that you were doing by hand. Lastly, UM-Flint is a great place to complete any degree. UM-Flint is very well-known and is able to offer/ create opportunities that will be very beneficial for its students. Unlike huge institutions, it isn’t very competitive to join organizations, which makes it even better to grow an abundance of experiences! Your college experience is all about what you make it, and UM-Flint gives you the opportunity to make it amazing!
Jay’la Rivers started her academic career at the University of Michigan-Flint in the Fall of 2017. Beginning her academic career, she quickly gained a liking towards accounting and declared a double major in Accounting and Finance. Jay’la was an active student leader on campus holding executive board seats within Block Club, Black Student Union, Beta Alpha Psi and the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). She was also a prominent student ambassador with McGraw-Hill Connect and Becker Professional Education. While she spent her time as a full-time student and student leader, she obtained multiple internships at prominent accounting firms and nonprofits such as: Integrity First accounting, Metro Community development, Plante Maran, and Pricewaterhousecooper (PwC). Through her dedication, hard work and persistence she will be graduating this Spring of 2021 with her bachelor’s in accounting and Finance. Jay’la took advantage of each opportunity that came her way and in return was able to obtain a full ride scholarship for her master’s degree at Northeastern University as well as a fellowship through PwC. There she will obtain her Master of Management degree as well as her Certified Public Accountant license. Outside of her community and academic engagements she loves to travel, grow new foods in her garden and play sudoku. Jay’la is dedicated to fulfilling her purpose in her daily life and within her community. She plans to one day open her own accounting firm and program geared towards exposing high school/college students to the many different pathways within the field of accounting. One motto she continues to live by is “If you can’t do it out the kindness of your heart then don’t do it at all.”
Za’Taia Shelby enrolled at the University in September 2017 as a freshman aiming to pursue a BBA in Accounting. After being informed about double majoring and the benefits she decided to pursue a double major in both Accounting and Finance. After graduation Za’Taia plans on becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and she has accepted a full time Forensic Accountant position at one of the big four accounting firms, Ernst & Young, in Miami, FL. Currently, she is finishing her last semester of college while working part time at a Credit Union. Outside of course work, Za’Taia is a member of a few organizations on campus. Za’Taia is the treasurer of The National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), a member of Phaze Out, and a member of The National Society of Leadership and Success. Her interests include gaining and improving skills associated with accounting, finance, leadership, business, and networking. Za’Taia’s passions are being successful, traveling the world, and spending time with loved ones. Za’Taia came into college with high honors which led her to win the Chancellor Scholarship Award from the University, and due to her hard work and dedication she will finish her undergraduate degree with high distinction as well.
In celebration of the 2021 Giving Blueday event on Wednesday, March 10, the School of Management is highlighting the growth and perseverance of the Entrepreneurs Society and their faculty advisor, Dr. Witt over the last 13 years.
The Entrepreneurs Society (ES) is an academic student organization at the University of Michigan-Flint. By design, it is nimble, flexible, and serves the useful role of supporting students who wish to pursue creative new ideas. The organization began in 2008 and since then has rapidly expanded across campus to most academic disciplines. Through hard work and discipline, the Entrepreneurs Society has earned many prestigious awards based on student projects and efforts, and has also supported the Flint community in many ways.
The pillar of the organization is founder and faculty advisor, Michael Witt, PharmD, JD, Entrepreneur in Residence, and Lecturer IV in Business Law and Entrepreneurship at the UM-Flint SOM.
Background about Dr. Michael Witt, PharmD, JD
Prior to joining the University, Dr. Witt had extensive experience in new company formation, especially in the drug and medical device development arena. His academic training includes a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD) from the University of California San Francisco, and a law degree (JD), from Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland.
At CWRU, and along with Prof. Duncan Neuhauser, they started Health Matrix: A Quarterly Journal of Health Sciences Management. This journal continues today at CWRU School of Law and is presently the leading law medicine publication of its kind. After law school, he practiced corporate health care law for seven years at Warner & Stackpole, a large Boston law firm, representing hospitals, biomedical research institutions, universities, and pharmaceutical companies.
Dr. Witt taught courses on Food and Drug Law, and Health and Hospital Law, at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences. While practicing law and teaching, he published a book entitled AIDS: Legal, Ethical and Social Implications, and was also published in the American Medical Association Journal on public health research guidelines. He was instrumental in establishing hospital policies on managing the AIDS crisis across the nation and was a frequent lecturer on this topic in numerous venues.
After seven years in Boston, Dr. Witt and his young family moved to Sacramento, where he started a technology company that specialized in commercializing university-derived medical research. Over the next ten years, his company worked to develop nine drugs and fourteen medical devices using institutional and venture capital resources in California. The company worked on projects around the globe, including Helsinki, Mexico City, Alberta, Truro, and Japan. He also developed and taught a course for five years at the Harvard School of Public Health (“Commercializing Biomedical Technologies”).
After years of travel, Dr. Witt and his wife decided to move to Michigan in 1997 to raise their children in his wife’s town of Flint, Michigan. After managing MichBio, Michigan’s life science trade association, in Ann Arbor, and practicing law at Cox, Hodgman, and Giarmarco, in Troy, Dr. Witt decided to settle into teaching full-time.
“Teaching is a lifelong passion of mine,” said Dr. Witt. In 2008, he began as a Lecturer in Business Law and Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan-Flint School of Management (SOM).
History of the UM-Flint Entrepreneurs Society (2008-Present)
During his first year of teaching at UM-Flint, Dr. Witt began to realize that his undergraduate students had a few things in common: Students worked on average thirty hours per week, and they were often first-generation college students. “Our students are driven to succeed and passionate about their careers. They typically are very serious and diligent,” said Dr. Witt.
A UM-Flint student, Laurie Matheny, approached Dr. Witt about a potential project she had and didn’t know where to find resources. “The university can be a difficult place to navigate and find solutions,” said Dr. Witt.
From this experience, Matheny knew that other students could benefit from guidance and assistance. As a result, she and Dr. Witt founded the Entrepreneurs Society alongside support from Dean John Helmuth and Associate Dean Yener Kandogan. It was recognized as an academic student club at UM-Flint, in 2008, as a way to facilitate students accessing the complex university environment and to help them succeed at their career goals. Dr. Witt was named Entrepreneur in Residence for the UM-Flint SOM and given the broad mandate of encouraging creative activities and teaching entrepreneurship and business law.
The first ES President was Laurie Matheny and the first task of the new student organization was to recruit like-minded students to be a part of its activities. “It wasn’t hard,” Dr. Witt continued, “Students were excited and on-board with a club dedicated to fulfilling their passions and dreams.”
“Many of our students need something special going for them if they are to compete and succeed in getting into graduate programs, in various disciplines, into companies which interview at many fine institutions, and in focusing their career plans effectively,” Dr. Witt continued, “The Entrepreneurs Society is a way for students to get help in building their careers and pursuing their dreams. I don’t push them—they push themselves. Perhaps I might nudge them a bit. But generally, if they want to succeed, it is a lot of fun to help them.”
In 2011, Dean John Helmuth, Ph.D., pushed for the Entrepreneurs Society to join the NationalCollegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO), a network of more than 250 colleges and universities and 8,000 students. This would give more opportunities for students to network and broaden students’ perspectives while representing UM-Flint globally. Two years after joining CEO, the Entrepreneurs Societyplaced 2nd in two categories: Best Fundraising Event, and Best Chapter Leadership. The Entrepreneurs Society solidified its structure and started growing at a tremendous rate. Students of all majors joined, with interests in engineering, computer science, pre-med/healthcare, fine arts, and music.
The Entrepreneurs Society evolved to become focused on community outreach and building connections with outside organizations. ES conceived and helped to establish Habitat for Humanity’s Work-Live Program, a now-internationally recognized activity where a home is built for a low-income entrepreneur with the business on the first floor, and a residence upstairs. “This has been done for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and we helped to bring it back to Flint—four of such homes have been built so far,” said Dr. Witt.
Entrepreneurs Society’s members have done work with numerous other organizations over the years and facilitated the development of many careers. Students have worked with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Genesee County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Catholic Communities of Flint (St. Matt’s), the State of Michigan’s DEEP Program, the State of Michigan’s Rural Development Agency, the Economic Development Agency of the Small Business Administration, to name a few.
“Needless to say, these activities are expensive and time-intensive,” said Dr. Witt. Recognizing this need, 2014 ES President, Bryon Killin, BBA ’15 in Accounting, helped to start the Entrepreneurs Society Endowment Fund. This fund, approved by the University, has the sole purpose of using its investment returns to fund ES projects and activities. It has grown over the years and is beginning to generate some modest support for student activities. “Donations from students like Bryon and local donors have been graciously received and accepted. It is still very modest, and we need funding in the worst way,” said Dr. Witt.
The Endowment Fund has been important in providing funding to student projects, and, along with the School of Management support from Dean Scott Johnson, it has also funded networking opportunities and trips like the CEO conference attended by six to ten students each year.
In 2018, Entrepreneurs Society was ranked top five in Chapter Advisory and Chapter Leader under the leadership of ES President, Michael Engle, BBA ‘18 in Finance and International Business. “Michael is an amazing, organized, and dedicated young professional and his efforts laid the groundwork for solid growth,” said Dr. Witt. During Engle’s tenure, the student group also completed an EDA-funded research project and presented a report on the need for eldercare facilities in Flint and surrounding communities.
His successor, Todd Fridline, BBA ‘19 in Finance, capitalized and extended these diligent efforts, culminating in winning the 2019 Global Chapter of the Year award. This received wide recognition in the UM-Flint community. Todd Fridline also led an extraordinary team to research, design, and launch a new innovative program in Genesee County: Flint Green. Elisabeth Hamilton BBA ‘20 in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Sean Tabor BBA ’17 in Entrepreneurship, Elijah Madar, BS ‘22 in Mechanical Engineering, and Caryn White, BBA ’20 in Marketing, worked together to research, design, build and install a novel wind/solar roof-mounted system designed to generate clean and cheap energy to a low-income residential home.
At the end of the 2018/19 academic year, the Entrepreneurs Society was recognized at the Celebrating Wolverine Excellence (CWE) banquet, an annual event for honoring and celebrating UM-Flint student contributions hosted by the Department of Student Involvement and Leadership. ES won four UM-Flint student organization awards: UM-Flint Student Organization of the year, UM-Flint Most Outstanding Community Contribution, UM-Flint Most Outstanding Student Leader (Fridline), and UM-Flint Most Outstanding Faculty Advisor (Dr. Witt).
Current Entrepreneurs Society Operations
The latest students, headed by ES President, Garrett Prince, BBA ’22 in Finance, (last semester recently graduated ES President, Giorgia Pasqui, BBA ’20 in International Business and Entrepreneurship & Innovation Management) are still striving and persevering post-COVID.
“No step for a stepper,” said Dr. Witt, channeling his Texas roots, “They continue to dip, dive, duck and dodge challenges as they arise.”
The other students in charge of ES leadership are Vice President, Helena Schutt, BBA ’22 in International Business and Marketing, Treasurer, Evan Johnson, BBA ’22 in General Business, Communications Coordinator, Drew Ferrari, M.S. in Computer Science & Information Systems, Marketing Director, Tracy Pemberton, BBA ’21 in International Business, and Ryan Hicks, MBA.
“I am most proud of their work with each other in cross-campus disciplines and with other student groups, including a session with six African-American entrepreneurs from the Black Student Union and hosting a guest lecturer in small business tax preparation with Beta Alpha Psi. Several new members are working on a Mentoring Program (Theo Ellis, Marketing), a PSA encouraging vaccine use (Christina El Zerka, Biology), and an Art Gallery project (Marquise ‘Mia’ Medal, Arts Administration). Several community businesses are being advised by other students, writing business plans, as well as a winter lecture series, featuring a noted venture capitalist from Hearst Ventures and author, Kunal Mehta, onTuesday, March 9, 2021,” said Dr. Witt.
The three business students (Ryan Hicks, Evan Johnson, and Garrett Prince) investigated how supply chains in Flint, MI were affected by COVID-19 and how it impacts local residents. They used software from Tealbooks, a supplier intelligence company based in Toronto, ON, Canada, to evaluate the operational disruptions of shipping goods and products coming from around the world to Michigan. The end result of the survey and report was to help local businesses address supply chain disruptions while assisting in providing resources and guidance for financial relief.
Presently, Christina El Zarka, a UM-Flint CAS Biology freshman student has developed a public service announcement to educate and encourage Flint residents to take the COVID-19 vaccine in a campaign calledSave Summer 2021. She is working with a number of groups, including the Genesee County Health Department, to create and distribute this public service announcement and informational video about the effectiveness of the vaccine.
In addition to student-focused projects, the Entrepreneurs Society is also involved with hosting speaker series, faculty and student spotlights, business plan training sessions, and offering professional headshots to UM-Flint students during the 2020/21 academic year.
“In reflecting on the last year and the challenges presented by the pandemic, it has been remarkable to watch the campus and community unite to help one another through this difficult time,” said Dr. Witt. Despite COVID-19 having made it harder to collaborate in-person, the Entrepreneurs Society continues to work on multiple projects with community-focused initiatives.
“It’s been a busy last few years. It’s been fun, but it’s been a challenging environment to navigate. We are still improving and have made a lot of headway, but a lot of work needs to be done,” Dr. Witt continued, “Giving Blueday at the University of Michigan-Flint is March 10th and we could use any financial support you are able to provide. Any amount is helpful, and just knowing that you are out there and willing to acknowledge these students’ efforts with your contributions is meaningful and will directly support the Flint community as well.”
To make a gift to the Entrepreneurs Society on March 10th for Giving Blueday, bookmark thiswebsite.
Hanses is native to Lansing, MI, where she grew up and attended college, but currently lives in Flint, Michigan. She likes to be close to campus and loves supporting Flint. “I enjoy living downtown and supporting local businesses. I love the “#FlintFwd” and “be good culture” movements that support bringing light and business back to Flint,” said Hanses.
Hanses is the first student in Michigan to pursue the dual OTD/MBA program at UM-Flint and has achieved a 4.0 GPA in her first year of courses in the two programs. “The more you learn and realize this is your future, the more you are passionate about what you’re learning,” said Hanses.
Hanses chose UM-Flint for two reasons.
First, UM-Flint has the only entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) in the state of Michigan. In addition to being a one of a kind program in the state, it can also be paired with a Master of Business Administration (MBA), which makes a strong match in reaching her goals in the field.
“The dual OTD-MBA program provides various benefits that are difficult to overlook, such as overall reduced cost rather than taking the degrees separately, flexibility with the MBA Net+ program, overlapping classes, and the MBA offers accommodation for those who wish to progress through the program at their own pace,” said Hanses.
Second, UM-Flint encourages students to participate and engage in research. Hanses has a Graduate Student Research Assistantship (GSRA) position and has been a part of Cognitive Neuroscience and Parkinson’s Disease research since her first semester with Dr. Nathaniel S. Miller, Assistant Professor of Psychology, at the UM-Flint College of Arts and Sciences.
Overall, UM-Flint has the most significant qualities and benefits she was looking for at the right price. “The University of Michigan always provides quality education, and this knowledge is essential to best serve my patients,” said Hanses.
Hanses’ long-term goal is to run a proprietorship or partnership and pair her OT background with a business mindset that will help her and her future patients. Within the healthcare industry, Hanses hopes to improve communication and advocate for patient needs.
“As a therapist, I want to do more than send the patient off to the next person. I would love to help in the operations of this sort of process, as there is always room for improvement to serve better, provide, and take care of the patient adequately,” Hanses continues, “I am interested in an MBA, so I can go from being a single link in the pathway to becoming a navigator of the entire healthcare chain.”
The MBA program supports and encourages classmate interaction and is a team-based driven program. The student population in the MBA program has diverse professional backgrounds and the courses inspire collaboration between classmates.
“In the MBA program, there is significant diversity in the educational and professional backgrounds of students. For example, we typically have a number of students from the healthcare industry that provide valuable insights to the classroom discussions and team projects. This diversity encourages different ways of thinking and problem solving, leading to greater learning and a richer educational experience,” said Dr. Brian Blume, Professor of Organizational Behavior and HR Management, and Associate Director of Hagerman Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Hanses took Dr. Blume’s MGT 541 – Organizational Behavior course in the fall of 2019 and enjoyed being part of the diverse classroom environment. “It feels more collaborative rather than being on my own and at my own pace. I love hearing perspectives of my other classmates,” said Hanses.
On the topic of her concentration, Hanses says, “As an OT with an MBA, I will have assorted and unique perspectives on circumstances. I can effectively weigh the outcome of a complication given what I know from patients, colleagues, and/or investors. Along with being a voice for these people, I can also do something about it. I hope to work to improve communication, within the healthcare industry, in this distinctive way.”
When it comes to making an impact, using the technical skills that come with the MBA has helped Hanses realize the importance of practical finance skills and being innovative. “Medical facilities manage on limited financial resources, and it is imperative to find solutions that can aid in a more efficient way. I want to make a positive impact on patient care by having more responsibility. I would love to devote my career to bigger picture thinking when I am not seeing patients.”
Outside of the OT world, Hanses appreciates the skills and knowledge that come with the usefulness of the MBA, stating, “The MBA degree has opened my eyes to not only the practical skills of financial planning, how the money supply works, calculating the relative costs of my opportunities, but also the basic principles of economics, finance, accounting, marketing, and management skills.” “An MBA is smart and feasible for professional administrative skills and is even more critical for lifelong skills with understanding bills, mortgages, taxes, regulations, and helping you know how our government system works,” said Hanses.
“I am going into this field, knowing it will be a lifelong career. I am devoted to becoming a leader, and to do this, I need these credentials to move up the ladder. Ultimately, this MBA will open up more doors to advance my career. I could not be more excited to pursue this additional degree.”
During the 2019-2020 school year, the UM-Flint Financial Management Association (FMA) made a strong comeback. In recent years, the student organization has become inactive. A group of committed UM-Flint School of Management students made it their mission to restart the organization and offer resources to students interested in financial management.
The mission of the Financial Management Association is to help students learn and challenge each other about various aspects of finance, such as investment banking, investment trading, investment management, and business administration-finance. They accomplish this through networking, being leaders in their classrooms, biweekly meetings, guest speaker events, and this year, attending a national conference.
In early March, five students attended the 2020 Finance Leaders’ Conference in New York, New York, for the first time in the history of the organization. The team members that attended were Parker Faubert (BBA in Finance), Todd Fridline, Vice President of FMA (BBA in Finance), Hannah Hodgkinson (BBA in Accounting), Austin McIntosh, President of FMA (BBA in Finance), Ciera Meier, Treasurer of FMA (BBA in Accounting and Minor in Criminal Justice), and Mustafa Salim, Secretary of FMA (BA in Economics and Minor in Finance).
These determined students highlighted their skills and accomplishments in a Financial Case Competition with 60 other universities throughout the country. The deliverables of their case focused on the macroeconomic, quantitative, and qualitative analysis of Peloton, the popular at-home workout equipment that also provides customer support through their app and live-streams.
“Due to this being our first time participating in this event, we did not know what to expect leading up to the event. Five of our six members were allowed to compete in this competition, and we divided the work up equally between these five members. We were given five hours to complete our analysis and we utilized this entire time. The deliverable for this portion of the competition was a four-page case report,” said Todd Fridline.
FMA presented their findings to a panel of judges, and from their hard work, they received Top Three Honors in this competition. “This was a tremendous experience for everyone involved,” said Todd Fridline.
“Since it was our first conference, we were not sure what to expect out of this weekend. Our main goal for this conference was to take in as much information we could. From there, we can take this information to guide the club’s meetings and future conferences going forward. We were looking at this conference as a gateway to get the club up to the potential we see it as,” said Ciera Meier.
Austin McIntosh, President of FMA, said, “We would absolutely like to attend the conference again and become a routine part for the club and to build upon the success that we enjoyed this year. We would like to continue learning more in-depth aspects of finance and the business world. Previous competitions held at this conference were quiz bowls and case competitions, so if we continue to learn and practice these skill sets, it will set us up for success not only in future conferences but also in our careers.”
The faculty advisor for FMA, John Stephens, Lecturer of Accounting and Finance for the School of Management said, “I am very happy with the activity of the club and the initiative they have taken to plan, organize, and arrange funding for the trip to New York City. I am also very proud of their accomplishment with the case competition. Each school could decide if they wanted to enter the competition. Not only did the UM-Flint FMA decide to enter, but they also were all very enthusiastic about the competition and their deliverables. The analysis was very strong and the students ended up placing third for their analysis of the Peloton Corporation and earning a prize stipend. The other schools in the competition were much bigger programs, but our students proved that size does not matter because the principles are the same no matter where you attend college. ”
During the Fall 2019 and Winter 2020 semesters, the FMA’s primary focus was to recruit new members and achieve their goals. “We have used flyers, digital signage, and various word of mouth to let students know we are back on the radar. We have tables at the Mgagement Fairs, SOM Business Socials, and also promoted our various events throughout campus,” said Austin McIntosh.
“By putting on various events, and making this organization centered around what the members want to gain out of the club, we are continuously achieving our goal of learning and challenging ourselves on aspects of business administrative finance,” Austin McIntosh continues, “Rebuilding this club and achieving the success as we did at the Finance Leaders’ conference truly shows that the University is excelling in teaching their students in becoming the Leaders and the Best.”
According to the group members, all of this couldn’t have been done without the guidance of FMA’s faculty advisor, John Stephens. “He has given us tremendous support and has contributed numerous ideas to help make the club become the best it can be. Aside from the club itself, he has assisted us in making smart decisions for our career as well as answering our financial questions that we come to him with,” said Austin McIntosh.
The intensity is up for FMA’s upcoming 2020-2021 academic year as they plan to continue to bring in well-known professionals from the community to educate students on specific industries within the business world, volunteer within the community, travel to Michigan firms in the finance/accounting field, host fun engaging student events, and attend the 2021 Finance Leaders’ Conference. The student organization will continue to be a learning environment for students interested in accounting and finance, even if it’s not their degree focus.
“I think that the program in the School of Management can hold their heads high in the sense that our students are learning how to think and problem solve using the tools that are taught in class. I am very proud of this accomplishment and the club has certainly set a high standard for next year’s club,” said John Stephens.
Current members testimonials on why they joined FMA:
“ I joined the club because I really wanted to more involved on campus as a sophomore. I am an accounting major, and wanted to join an org that would compliment that but also broaden my horizons. Meeting new people was a bonus!“ – Hannah Hodgkinson, BBA in Accounting
“I was looking for a way to get more involved on campus. Although I am not majoring in finance, I thought it would be good to extend my knowledge in that field.” – Ciera Meier, Treasurer of FMA, BBA in Accounting and Minor in Criminal Justice
“I’ve always been interested in financial markets and the economy. As an economics major I wanted to add more depth to my degree. The club solidified the idea of adding a Finance minor to my degree.” – Mustafa Salim, Secretary of FMA, BA in Economics and Minor in Finance
“I was seeking a club that was not only related to my major but also as a way to get involved on campus, being that this is a crucial way to stand out to potential employers, and at the same time make myself a more well-rounded individual.” – Austin McIntosh, President of FMA, BBA in Finance
Interested in join FMA in the Fall 2020? Email Austin McIntosh at email@example.com.
Veronica Hindelang (‘20) isn’t your typical college student at the University of Michigan-Flint. This unique college student set out to complete her undergraduate and graduate education in less than four years. Currently, Hindelang is a senior studying Finance for her Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), and in less than three months from now, she will be walking the commencement stage only to jump in a week later into the MBA program at UM-Flint.
Even more ambitious, Hindelang’s long-term goal is going into the United States Air Force first as a Second Lieutenant and continue to make rank after her commission. After deciding to pursue a career in the Air Force, she realized the value of pursuing her education so that one day she could become an officer. “I chose the Air Force as I was most familiar with the branch,” said Hindelang. Her father is an Air Force Veteran and served for 22 years.
To become an officer in the Air Force requires Hindelang to complete the Reserve Officers Training Corps – and the University of Michigan was on her radar. She quickly found out that she could still participate in the program while attending UM-Flint. “I opted for the branch that was closest to home, more affordable, and with a better student to faculty ratio,” Hindelang continues, “After some time in my field, I will be required to obtain a master’s degree to continue to make rank, as do all other military officers. I believe that completing my masters now while I am in a situation with advantageous resources and propelling motivation would be best. My ability and readiness to pursue and successfully complete my education are at a peak.”
The senior from Frankenmuth, MI states, “The military, as I believe, would provide me with valuable and unique experiences that the civilian sector could not. There are opportunities and benefits I would like to pursue, and in my experience so far, I’ve met wonderful people, traveled to interesting places, and have seen a change in myself for the better.” Veronica explains that she plans on exploring careers as either a pilot, combat systems officer, remote pilot, or an air battle manager and “the Air Force seems to be a good fit and right place to do it.”
Joining the military is a selfless act for your country and Hindelang advises those interested in enlisting to consider that “education is very important for every rank in the military. You never stop learning. Reaching out to people and learning together can teach you a lot about others and yourself.”
Even though she found a college that could fulfill her unique needs for completing a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in under two years, she still ran into some normal roadblocks. Hindelang stated, “It was difficult to make connections in the beginning when I was touching bases with different departments to complete my gen ed courses but after settling in the School of Management to complete my core classes, I’ve met a wonderful group of faculty and students. I feel supported and focused in my direction.”
“After many stressful semesters, what I have and still value the most, are those, both student and faculty, who willingness to be flexible and constructive has helped me grow and succeed,” continues Hindelang, “Communicative, dedicated, personable, and reasonable instructors and students who share their strengths and complement your weaknesses in the courses you take together are the reason I have been able to push myself further than I thought I could. Special thanks to Noah Knutson, Hunter Johnson and anyone who joined study groups with me.”
Barclay (Clay) Davis graduated with honors from UM-Flint School of Management in December 2019 with his Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) in Finance. During his time at UM-Flint, he applied his knowledge at an internship at the State of Michigan Treasury. In his role as the student assistant, he supported the Real, Opportunistic, and Absolute Return Division through research and analysis skills to recommend purchases, retention or sale of investments.
Davis is originally from Highland, Michigan and choose
UM-Flint because of the high quality of education and affordability of tuition.
“The application of the concepts I learned at UM-flint helped me understand my
studies more and relate them to what I wanted to do as a career,” Davis
continues, “I would have to say nearly all my School of Management courses
directly or indirectly applied to my internship as a wide variety of skills and
knowledge were required for my internship. This internship gave me the
opportunity to show my skills and I am now being considered for a full-time
financial analyst position.”
His post-graduation goal is to pursue a career as a financial analyst, one of the most prevalent career paths in finance. “I plan to become a financial analyst for the State of Michigan Retirement Systems pension fund within the State of Michigan Treasury. I have always had an interest in finance and financial markets and enjoy the process of identifying and researching investments,” said Davis. At his position, he gained a variety of skills but mostly valued gaining firsthand knowledge of what a financial analyst goes through on a daily basis and enjoyed meeting with large financial firms. “This experience showed me the level of expertise, attention to detail, and hard work it takes to be financial analysts,” said Davis.
Mr. Nichols, Lecturer of Management, and Dr. Stephens, Lecturer of Finance, informed Davis about the competitive internship program at the State of Michigan Treasury. “I cannot thank both of them enough for their interest in finding opportunities for students that lead to internships and potential careers,” Davis continues, “UM-Flint has given me the opportunity and skills necessary to excel in my future career, and I cannot thank the University enough.”
UM-Flint School of Management student, Alexandria Thompson, received the distinguished HORIZONS scholarship from the Women in Defense – Michigan Chapter. The scholarship is given to encourage women to pursue careers related to national security and defense fields in the United States. Thompson is a U.S. Air Force veteran and will be receiving her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Supply Chain Management in December 2019. She will be graduating with honors from UM-Flint on Sunday, December 15, 2019.
Thompson received the scholarship at the 11th Annual Women in Defense gala on November 8, 2019, at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, MI. “It was an incredibly special night because I got to bring my mom as my date,” said Thompson, “My mom is a U.S. Air Force veteran with ten years of active duty service. Being able to celebrate women who are often underrepresented in their defense and military careers, alongside my mom, was an absolute dream.”
Previously, Thompson worked combat supply operations for an F-16 fighter squadron in various countries such as Japan, Jordan, Djibouti, and Singapore. Thompson said that the traveling made it difficult to pursue a degree, “I separated and began pursuing my degree at UM-Flint [and] it allowed me to pursue my education from one of Michigan’s top tier schools without having to move again.”
Thompson said, “The Supply Chain Management program at UM-Flint provides a global perspective on business, logistics, and management that promotes the skills and objectives that directly apply to what is required of a civilian to support our military members on the front lines.” Thompson added, “Courses such as Project Management, International Management, and Operations Management have taught me abilities in planning and developing strategies outside of national boundaries.”
One of the obstacles Thompson had to overcome to attend UM-Flint was getting back into the academic mindset after being out of school for so long. “I struggled very much in the beginning, especially in math-related subjects. I spent every spare minute I had in the math tutor lab getting help,” said Thompson. Thompson credits her achievements to Larry Nichols, School of Management Lecturer, for writing her a letter of recommendation for the HORIZONS scholarship. “Mr. Nichols is a rare educator that genuinely cares about his students’ success,” said Thompson.
Thompson is currently working as a Student Contracting Trainee for the U.S. Army at the Detroit Arsenal. After graduation, Thompson will be working towards becoming a Contract Specialist and will continue her career with the U.S. Army. “I knew after my military service that I would like to pursue a career within the Department of Defense. I think it is important to have pride in what you do and the military offers a sense of pride unlike any other.”
Hello everyone! I am Za’Taia Shelby, and I am a junior double majoring in Accounting and Finance.
My 2019 Summer was dedicated to building the foundation to becoming successful in the classroom, employment opportunities, and overall as a person. In life, there are many stepping-stones before you get to the points that you want to reach. This is why this summer I worked 53 hours a week and while being enrolled in spring and summer classes full time. I worked at Dort Federal Credit Union as a Video Teller while also pursuing an Accounting Internship at Amigo Mobility. During the internship, I have worked side by side with the General Accountant which has allowed me to gain experience in various accounting fields. I have worked with accounts payable and receivable, and briefly with creating financial statements.
Even though my schedule was jam packed, I did make time to travel to Las Vegas, Mississippi, and Ohio. In Las Vegas, I attended the National Association of Black Accountants Convention (NABA) with our new student led NABA Chapter at the University of Michigan-Flint. I had over ten interviews with top companies for accounting/finance internships for the summer of 2020. After receiving five internship offers, I have accepted the Internship for the summer of 2020 with Dow Chemical Company. This summer I learned the importance of time management and making sacrifices to better yourself for a great future.
For the fall semester, I am most definitely looking forward to indulging into my BBA courses since these will essentially help me build the skillset for my dream career- Forensic Accountant. Now that I have attended the NABA Convention, I know that I have the constant support from scholars, graduates, or professionals -that have been in my shoes or that are currently in my shoes- to make sure I make it to the top. Therefore, this Fall semester I will reach out to more students with accounting majors so that they can know that they have this support as well.
My advice to all college students is to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. If it’s a course, employment opportunity, or extracurricular activity that you want to pursue but you are nervous about it- put your best foot forward and do your best. Also, never be afraid to ask questions! Whether its questions about cheap textbooks, help with assignments, stuff to do on campus, or tips about surviving college, DO NOT be afraid to ask. By using this advice, it helps make the college experience easier to navigate through so that you can then help the next college student have a smooth college experience.
Lastly, if you’re planning to major in Accounting- join NABA and GO BLUE!
Hello! My name is Danielle Struck and I am a senior studying
I started the summer of 2019 in the magical place of Disney World exploring all things Mickey Mouse, Avatar and Olaf. After soaking up the sun for a week, I returned to work Downtown at 100k Ideas located in the Ferris Wheel. I spend my days as a project manager helping people in the community move their ideas forward. Whether that be a product, service, software, or social impact, we’re always open for conversation. I was fortunate to work closely with our new satellite locations at the Flint Development Center and The Berston Field House to make our services more assessable to others in the community! One of the ideas I worked closely with this summer you may have noticed zooming around town. Did you hear about the new scooters coming to Flint? My coworker Peter Deppe and his friend Scott Spitler are the guys who are making that possible. Kuhmute is scooter rideshare that offers a universal charging hub for any rideshare. I’ve spent many days learning what really goes into entrepreneurship, feeling inspired by their dedication, and helping them any way I can.
For the upcoming Fall Semester, I’m excited to announce it
is my final fall semester of my undergrad career! I’m ready for all the
connections that will be made and to discover even more about myself as a
student and as a professional.
For new students and incoming freshmen, my best advice:
1. Charlies’ Smokin’ BBQ at the Farmer’s Market is the best.