Recent CMU grads quickly find their niches

10 Within 10 honorees represent accomplishments in multiple fields

| Author: Heather Smith

‚ÄčEach year, Central Michigan University's 10 Within 10 awards program honors exceptional achievements by alumni within a decade of CMU graduation. This year's honorees have set the leadership standard in the fields of media, law, communications, medicine and more.

On the CMU Alumni Relations website, each of the 10 honorees shared reflections on their time at CMU and where their careers have taken them. Meet this year's honorees below, and hear what they had to say when asked, "What advice would you give to new grads?"

Justin Foote

Justin Foote2Foote is the manager of CRM and data strategy for the Los Angeles Lakers. He graduated in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in commercial recreation and facility management (now recreation and event management). He lives in Los Angeles.

Advice to new grads: "Everyone you meet is a future alliance, so make a good impression. Volunteer for things. Regardless of your role, you're never too important for mundane tasks. If you can, move somewhere you've never lived."


Mary Hilger

Hilger, Mary HeadshotHilger is an attorney adviser and judge advocate for the Michigan Army National Guard. She graduated in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in history. She lives in Lowell, Michigan.

Advice to new grads: "Be kind to yourself, and have confidence that no one actually has it figured out yet. Don't chase money. Chase what makes you happy, and the money will come. Life is too short to put off loving life until retirement. When you start a job, remember that asking questions is a sign of intelligence. Find a hobby, figure out what makes you happy, and don't be afraid to pursue things in addition to a career."


Derek Hirschman

Derek HirschmanHirschman is a board-certified dermatologist and owner of H2 Dermatology. He graduated in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in biomedical sciences. He lives in Saginaw, Michigan.

Advice to new grads: "Set goals, and share them with people you care about. It's a way to provide motivation as well as hold yourself accountable in trying to achieve those goals."



Zachary Huffman

HuffmanHuffman is the founder and CEO of Hyvion, a drone services provider. He graduated in 2018 with a master's degree in electronic media management. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Advice to new grads: "Go grab that cup of coffee or get that lunch you keep talking about! We live in a society where it's natural for us to say, 'Let's get coffee sometime,' but we never actually do it. It may seem like an uncomfortable leap into the unknown — or an exhausting extroverted task — but that single exchange may help land your next deal, build a lifelong friendship or reconnect with a former acquaintance."


Kelley Kosuda

Kelley Kosuda PictureKosuda is a consumer producer at Hearst Television for the national brand Rossen Reports. She graduated in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in broadcast and cinematic arts and in 2014 with a master's degree in electronic media management. She lives in New York City.

Advice to new grads: "Don't be afraid to say yes to opportunities that scare you. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be intimidating, but each time I've done it, the rewards have outweighed the fear. I've had jobs and projects come my way where I've questioned, 'Am I talented enough to do this?' But each opportunity and what I've learned from it has been worth it. Each one made me brave enough to take on my current job in NYC. Take on the new opportunities that scare you, so when doors open for you, you won't be afraid to step right in."

Cierra Mangal

Cierra Mangal - Headshot - 2021Mangal is the director of marketing for Michigan-based public relations and investor relations firm Lambert & Co. She graduated in 2013 with a degree in integrative public relations. She lives in Detroit.

Advice to new grads: "There is a quote by Maya Angelou I feel sums up any advice I would give to new graduates. It says, 'You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you.'"

Steve McIsaac

Stephen McIssac HeadshotMcIsaac is senior vice president of brokerage operations for Nolan Transportation Group, a third-party logistics business in the domestic full truckload market. He graduated in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in general management. He lives in Lake Orion, Michigan.

Advice to new grads: "Don't be afraid to work for a smaller, 'unheard of' company. No one knew who Nolan Transportation Group was when I took the job in 2011, and we've grown into a top 10 revenue producer in our space. You can make a real impact at a smaller company, and you will often find happiness tied to autonomy and making a difference. Also, pick a leader who will challenge you to grow beyond your comfort zone and work on your skill set."

Marcelo Olivarez

03.25.21_MARCELO OLIVAREZ HS_0002Olivarez is distribution unit director for Meijer, in charge of the largest dry grocery automated storage and retrieval system in the country. He graduated in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in sport management and in 2012 with a master's degree in sport administration. He lives in Haslett, Michigan.

Advice to new grads: "Understand there are only two things we can control in our lives — our attitude and our effort. Regardless of the circumstances we're going to encounter both professionally and personally, the attitude we choose to have in the reaction to our circumstances is completely within our control. Giving effort may look and feel differently depending on the level of standards one has for themselves. However, there is a stark difference between giving effort and giving a champion effort — this, again, is completely within our control. Go attack each day with a relentless attitude and a champion effort."

Jennifer Peacock


Peacock is a senior program associate at the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute. She graduated in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in cultural and global studies. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Advice to new grads: "Always have mentors across generations. Keep those younger than you close and learn from them while you maintain relationships with those who are older than you. Post-grad life can be jarring, and those mentors will be valuable to you. These relationships can help you see that paths and passions can change, your wants and needs will change. Don't ever feel locked into one specific role or feel you have to stay in your field, because the more experiences you collect in life, the better mentor you'll be. Pay it forward, and be the mentor you've needed, wanted or had."

Drew Weil

Photo_Drew Weil_1 (1)

weil is director of hospital operations for University of California, Los Angeles Health. He graduated in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in health administration. He lives in Los Angeles.

Advice to new grads: "While there is not a single path or monolith for what success will look like, I would share three pieces of advice with new graduates. First, I would encourage graduates to find a long-term mentor — ideally someone who is trusted, challenges your thoughts and beliefs, and values your success. Second, I would encourage graduates to become comfortable in ambiguity. Often, personal growth and discovery occur outside of our comfort zones. Finally, while pouring yourself into your profession is important, it shouldn't be the only thing. Value your relationships, hobbies and personal growth, too."

View latest news