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10 Within 10

Young alumni are putting their stamp on the world in diverse and significant ways

Contact: Heather Smith


​​By Samantha Smallish, 16
Reprinted from Centralight Summer​ 2016

Now in its third year, the 10 Within 10 program recognizes young alumni who bring honor to Central Michigan University through their work in their career or community.

This year's slate of Chippewas is making a difference in politics, television, human resources, higher education, the court system and finance.

And they carry their Central pride wherever they go.​​

What is your proudest achievement so far?

“Overall, I continue to be amazed and fulfilled by the kinds of opportunities I’ve been offered through pursuing a career in public service.”

How did your time at CMU best prepare you for your success? 

“The College of Business Administration gave me a strong foundation to work in a variety of different settings, on unique issues and to communicate effectively with a broad set of people.”

What motivates you? 

“Wanting to put my skills toward contributing to the greater good, which has meant a lot of different things for me, from services for the formerly incarcerated to women’s rights and global advancement. Since I can remember, I always have wanted to fight for the underdog and give voice to the voiceless.”

What advice do you have for CMU students? 

“When I was a student, I wanted a five-year plan and to know exactly what my next step was, but my career hasn’t been like that at all. You don’t need to have every step of the way mapped out. Just be receptive and open to opportunities that present themselves.”

Why is it important for you to stay connected to CMU?

“CMU will always hold a special place in my heart. It continues to be an incredible place for students to grow and develop, and that’s something I want to continue to be part of.”

What is your proudest achievement so far?

“Getting to do what I love. The awards are nice, but getting to go to work every day and do what I set out to when I enrolled at CMU is incredible. To be able to do it for the teams I grew up cheering for makes it that much better.”

How did your time at CMU best prepare you for your success?

“Being a student when the football team was having a lot of success – more games were televised, ESPN was coming to Mount Pleasant, and it allowed me to freelance with several different companies and network with people established in the field.”

What motivates you? 

“I’m fortunate that my career is one many consider a dream job. I go to work every day and try to put on the best show I can. Whether we have five viewers or five million, I want them to be entertained by a great product.”

What advice do you have for CMU students? 

“Take advantage of cocurricular activities and various opportunities available to CMU students. They provide a great place to hone your craft and learn from your mistakes.”

Why is it important for you to remain connected to CMU? 

“I would have loved to have someone with my job come back to work with me, talk with me and just serve as a mentor. For me, I think it is important to do that for students.”

What is your proudest achievement so far?

“Helping start unified intramural sports at CMU. It was the first-ever unified intramural league in the country, and since then, it has really exploded at other schools.” The league partners CMU students with Special Olympics athletes.

How did your time at CMU best prepare you for your success?

“CMU really prepared me for life after college by allowing me to connect with people as well as learning how to be a professional, to explore and to learn.”

What motivates you? 

“One of the greatest motivators is our athletes and their achievements. When I have long days of traveling, getting to interact with athletes and volunteers at events makes my job worth it.”

What advice do you have for CMU students? 

“Never stop giving back or volunteering. All of us have some sort of talent we can give back to others. You never know whose life you might change by donating your time.”

Why is it important for you to remain connected to CMU? 

“In my role, I help develop unified sports programs. Part of my job includes going to different colleges and raising awareness. Seeing the impact students can make is incredible, and I love seeing what they can achieve.”

What is your proudest achievement so far?

“Being able to lead the teams that I have. I’ve led a store of more than 130 employees. Now, I lead human resources for a group of 65 Target stores. Being able to impact as many people as I have, helping to mold their careers and influence the culture of the stores I manage has been very rewarding.”

How did your time at CMU best prepare you for your success? 

“At CMU, you are put in situations to make friends quickly – whether in the residence halls or in classes – and many times with people who are very different from you. I work with people of different ages and backgrounds, and CMU helped prepare me for these different types of interactions.”

What motivates you? 

“When I have a team that counts on me to be a great boss, that is what gets me up in the morning.”

What advice do you have for CMU students? 

“I know a lot of students who, when trying to build a resume, think they need to get involved in as many groups as possible, but it’s really more important to focus on quality over quantity. When I interview a student, I’d rather hear about the in-depth experiences you’ve had rather than all groups you are just part of to add to your resume.”

Why is it important for you to remain connected to CMU? 

“I truly think I can relate to the students and say, ‘Hey, only seven years ago I was doing what you were doing, and now I’m here.’ Sometimes students think it’s going to take 15 to 20 years to achieve a certain professional role. It doesn’t. For me, it’s important to connect with students to show them they can reach their goals.”

What is your proudest achievement so far?

“I’m very proud to have been elected both president of our local Rotary Club and president of our local Chamber of Commerce.  As a business owner, it’s important that we are involved in our communities and strive to unite citizens, businesses, civic organizations and government entities for the advancement of our community. Since being elected, we have collaboratively raised more than $50,000 for the benefit of our community and increased active membership by nearly 50 percent.”

How did your time at CMU best prepare you for your success?

“The College of Business Administration provided the framework for a successful career. As a member of the baseball team, I was taught life skills like leadership, teamwork and strategy. Both aspects combined to prepare me well for a successful balance of both work and life.”

What motivates you? 

“Accountability. I’m responsible for the financial well-being of my clients, and I am held to a very high standard of care. Further, as president of two civic organizations, a youth baseball coach and foundation board member for our local hospital, I am accountable to our community as well.” 

What advice do you have for CMU students? 

“My grandfather told me that you get the respect you give. Respect one another and get involved in a cause in which you believe.”

Why is it important for you to remain connected to CMU? 

“You can’t forget where you came from. It’s important to share your story and experiences with others so they can understand your values and what motivates you – all of that is shaped by your past, and CMU has been a large part of it for me.”

What is your proudest achievement so far?

“Serving as a federal judicial law clerk. My position allows me to see how the law operates behind the scenes and to work very closely with a well-respected federal judge. It is the greatest job a young attorney could hope for, and I am very thankful and proud to have this experience.”

How did your time at CMU best prepare you for your success?

“The key to an attorney’s success is the ability to write well. By following the writing-intensive curriculum of the College of Business Administration, I became a stronger, more confident writer, which helped position me for success in law school.”

What motivates you? 

“I want to continually improve my skills and increase my legal knowledge. As a law clerk, I strive to produce work that is not only thorough and well-researched, but will aid the court in achieving a fair and balanced decision in every case.”

What advice do you have for CMU students? 

“Take advantage of the vast opportunities around you and hone in on your passions. It was during my time at CMU when I developed a strong interest in animal rights and issues surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault – issues I still care deeply about today.”

Why is it important for you to remain connected to CMU? 

“As more time passes, I’m increasingly aware of just how much CMU has shaped the person I am today. Like the many alumni who have helped me along my journey, it is now my turn to give back to CMU.”

What is your proudest achievement so far?

“My sophomore year of college, I developed and taught a class at a correctional facility on the history of jazz music. The experience had a profound impact on my view of criminal justice and was probably a much better learning experience for me than it was for my students.”

How did your time at CMU best prepare you for your success?

“CMU provided great cocurricular activities that shaped my world view and made me feel like I was truly in the driver’s seat with my career.”

What motivates you?

 

“I grew up surrounded by an incredibly dedicated and passionate family. Their successes and tireless efforts to contribute to their professions and communities motivate me to make a dent in the world.”

What advice do you have for CMU students? 

“Read. Seriously, read. It’s a very big and complicated world, and I think we all have a responsibility – maybe even an obligation – to truly care about the nuances in our communities.”

Why is it important for you to remain connected to CMU? 

“CMU is home to many of my fondest memories and greatest mentors. Staying connected to the university keeps me plugged into an institution that truly cared about my future.”

What is your proudest achievement so far?

“I’ve been able to use my education in both of my jobs. I have my academic advising job, but then I can combine that with my passion to coach.”

How did your time at CMU best prepare you for your success?

“I was a cheerleader at CMU and pursuing a degree in sociology. Ten years later, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I didn’t know my transition from student to professional would be so literal, but I love what I’m doing now, and that wouldn’t be possible without CMU.”

What motivates you? 

“I grew so much both personally and professionally during my time at CMU, and that growth now motivates me to help 18- to 22-year-olds figure out what they want to do and who they want to be.”

What advice do you have for CMU students? 

“Take your time. You have 40 years of your life to work and be in a career, so make sure it is what you want. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life at 18.”

Why is it important for you to remain connected to CMU? 

“I grew up and found my independence at CMU, and now I want to make sure students are having the same experience I did.”

What is your proudest achievement so far?

“I am proud of serving as an advance coordinator and then as advance lead in the Obama Administration. The Office of Advance is tasked with maximizing the impact of the president’s time and message on the ground when he travels. Supporting the president’s work was fulfilling, and I saw more of the world than I thought I ever would.”

How did your time at CMU best prepare you for your success?

“The Alternative Breaks program run through the Volunteer Center was my most important college experience. The White House Internship Program values applicants with public service backgrounds, and I was placed in the Advance Office because I had spent a lot of time working on public-service trip logistics through my trips with Alternative Breaks.”

What advice do you have for CMU students? 

“It is tempting to take the first job offer, decide not to relocate or opt for the bigger paycheck instead of public service. Be careful. Yes, you must pay the bills, but make sure you pick something that fulfills and challenges you. The opportunities that made me feel ‘in over my head’ led to the greatest growth and satisfaction.”

Why is it important for you to remain connected to CMU? 

“Specific people keep me tied to CMU. My mentors, Director of the Volunteer Center Shawna Ross, alumna Michelle Somes-Booher and professor Cherie Strachan still counsel me in making life decisions and have become lifelong friends. Contributing to the programs I feel served me best makes sense, and I want other students to benefit from them.”

What is your proudest achievement so far?

“Making senior partner at New York Life at my age. It was very hard for me to get, and when I did, I finally felt like I made it.’

How did your time at CMU best prepare you for your success?

“The mentorship and coaching that was given to me when I played field hockey at CMU really helped mold me as a person.”

What motivates you? 

“Helping other people as well as being recognized for my accomplishments.”

What advice do you have for CMU students? 

“Find a mentor as soon as possible. If I had found a mentor who could have helped me figure out what path to take, it would have helped me so much.”

Why is it important for you to remain connected to CMU? 

“Whenever you’re part of a university, you feel like a family. When I see someone wearing CMU gear, I say, ‘Fire up Chips!’”


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