Alumni Success Story – Rachel Tuttleman ’10, ’11

Rachel Tuttleman BBA ’10, MBA ’11 believes working at Shefit, Inc. a Grand Rapids based startup company, is “the most rewarding, yet hardest job” she has ever had. Learn why below.

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Tell me about yourself, Rachel

After growing up in Rockford, MI, I moved a few miles to Grand Rapids to attend Davenport University, where I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Accounting in 2010. I immediately began to pursue my MBA with an emphasis in Healthcare Management. After earning my MBA, I secured a job at Spectrum Health in their Process Improvement Department. For several years, I worked on implementing Lean Improvements for their entire organization. In 2015, I moved to Michigan Office Solutions where I lead quality and lean process initiatives. Around the same time, my friend, Sara, started a sports bra company called “Shefit, Inc”. It was exciting to see her progress as she started building a brand. I have a strong passion for women’s health and knew Shefit was where I wanted my career to thrive. In 2016, I joined the Shefit team and haven’t looked back since.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

As a small business, we all wear a lot of hats. I am currently the Director of Operations and Financial Management at Shefit, Inc. I manage financials, budgets, assist with strategic planning, build relationships with vendors, support inventory control, and help with anything else our team needs. Sometimes this may mean packing bras and shipping to fulfill countless customer orders, other times this is working with our strategic partnerships to develop the next big product. As a startup, you must do whatever it takes to keep the day-to-day business needs successful.

What made you want to leave your 8-5 job to work for a start-up?

For me, I wanted to find a place where I could put my passion into action. Working for a startup has been the most rewarding, yet hardest job I have ever had. I remember having early conversations with Sara about wanting to work for her. I admired her drive and passion to help others. She gave me a chance and I started helping her at night with packing and shipping. My passion for the products only grew from there. Then, Sara and her husband, Bob, appeared on the popular TV show, ABC’s “Shark Tank”, where they landed a deal with a Shark. Shefit sports bras’ exposure skyrocketed overnight and Sara approached me about the operation and financial role, and I couldn’t say yes fast enough. I took a risk and left my “safe” career for a startup company, which has proven to be the best decision I have ever made. Shefit started as a home business, with operations out of a basement. They hired their first full-time employee in 2015 and have grown to 6 full-time employees and 3 part-time employees since. We’ve also moved out of the basement and have a warehouse in the Hudsonville area. We affectionately call it the Jenison Garment District.

Walk us through your typical day.

Normally my day starts at 6:00 a.m. at the gym, obviously in my Shefit sports bra. By 7:30am I am diving into my emails, reviewing financial transactions, wire information, HR duties and answering any operational questions. By mid-day, I’ve most likely had several meetings with our accounting firm, vendors or staff members. At nights, I am frequently at a tradeshow or bra fitting home party discussing the benefits of the Shefit Ultimate Sports Bra. My day is non-stop, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s the life of a startup and it’s exactly what I expected.

How has Davenport had a role in your journey?

Davenport provided an excellent education for a career in business. I should admit; no education can ever prepare you for working at a startup. It’s crazy, because every day is different! The projects we completed in school directly apply to the real-world, which helped me translate what I learned in the classroom to my day-to-day work.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Two things – earning my Master’s Degree and helping Shefit grow. I am leading the charge in creating instrumental procedures to help scale the business quickly and successfully. Not only am I working to change and improve the organization, I know deep down in my heart this product is changing and improving the way women are working out.

What is your dream job?

This is my dream job! I love making people feel comfortable in their own bodies and seeing them happy. I love the work I do and love this company with my whole heart, and I always will. We not only focus on sports bras, we specialize in empowerment and want to give women the power to be who they want to be, at whatever stage they are at in life. We want to help women love the body they were given, not wish it were different. So, for me, this is my dream job because our entire team is helping so many women across the globe.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Lead with compassion. This means being mindful of how we treat others and ourselves. It means taking an honest look at our behaviors and actions, and making small adjustments. By doing so, you will notice a happy working atmosphere and satisfied staff and customers, which overall will improve productivity and profitability. We believe the only way to grow the company is by building a great team and encouraging women to be the best they can be.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy spending time with my boyfriend, Patrick, who by the way, I met at Davenport. We often hang out with friends and family, as well as our black lab, Derby. When we find the time, we enjoy skiing in the winter and boating in the summer. It’s nice to live in a state where you have so many opportunities to experience the outdoors in all seasons.

2017 Alumni Award Nominations are Open

Do you know someone from your class, network or company who you believe should be recognized for their accomplishments, service to others and contributions to the community? The Davenport University Alumni Association is currently seeking nominations for the 2017 Alumni Awards and we need your help identifying outstanding DU alumni. Honor someone you admire today by nominating them! The award categories are:

  • Davenport University Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Hy Berkowitz Professional Excellence Award
  • Donald W. Maine College of Business Alumni Award
  • College of Technology Alumni Award
  • College of Health Professions Alumni Award
  • Outstanding Young Alumni Award

To nominate a deserving Davenport University alum, please visit our website to learn more about the awards and complete the online nomination form. Nominations will be open until April 30, 2017.

Alumni Success Story – Andrew Cranmer ’15

Many of the details about Andrew Cranmer’s job at the Space and Naval Warfare Command System Center Atlantic Branch are classified, but his general role is scientist. He mainly works on projects relating to machine learning, computer vision and biometrics, similar to his courses of study at DU. Read more about Andrew’s journey to the Department of Defense below.

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Drew is from Belding, Michigan and chose Davenport University initially because of its location close to home. While a student, he worked as an RA for two years and played rugby for three. He is currently completing his last semester of master’s coursework at Southern Methodist University while working in Charleston, South Carolina for the Department of Defense.

Many of the details about Drew’s job at the Space and Naval Warfare Command System Center (SPAWAR) Atlantic Branch are classified, but his general role is scientist. He mainly works on projects relating to machine learning, computer vision and biometrics, similar to his courses of study at DU. “Basically, if a project comes up that needs a computer scientist who has skills in these areas, I can be pulled into the project,” he says. “I can do anything. Programming, research & development… I like to figure out better ways to do things.”

He says his concentration on biometrics at DU set him apart from the crowd and helped lead to his current line of work, but he did not always know this would be his path. “Growing up, I had absolutely no idea what I would do until I got to Davenport,” he says. “As I got further into my program, I really started to enjoy it. Then I started questioning what I could do with the degree and found a mentor in Denny Bobeldyk.”

Drew credits Denny’s investment of time in him as the main reason he continued and succeeded in computer science. Denny also encouraged Drew to apply for what would become a life-changing scholarship with the Department of Defense (DoD). Initially, Drew didn’t think he had a chance at winning and felt daunted by the long application process. With Denny’s help though, he grew his confidence and wrote about his studies in biometrics because he knew that DU is one of only a handful of schools in the nation that offer the program. He was accepted into DoD Information Assurance Scholarship Program (IASP).

Now, he says, “I would tell students to not let fear keep them from doing things. Apply for everything. This opportunity shaped my whole career.” Though he is proud of receiving the DoD IASP scholarship while at DU, it was also scary to accept because the opportunity meant that he would work for the DoD- and he could be sent anywhere in the world where the DoD has employees.

He feels fortunate to be stationed in Charleston, where he is experiencing warmer winters and a new culture, but it was scary at first. “Coming from Belding, Michigan, I hadn’t really ever been away from home,” he says. “It was nerve wracking to pick up and move 1,000 miles away all by myself.”

Drew enjoys the tangible, hands-on work he does because he sees results. His ultimate goal, though, is to become a CIO or CTO by spending the time to learn the technical aspects of the computer world and later move into the leadership and management roles. He enjoys working with people and models his work ethic after his grandfather, a small business owner in central Michigan who also served as a father figure. He also credits his wife, Becky, with significant influence in his life, “She encourages me, pushes me, and makes me want to be successful.”

Alumni Success Story – April Braman ’14

As a Case Manager at the University of Michigan, April Braman, CCM ‘14 manages short and long term disability cases for their employees, assists them with ADA accommodations, return to work concerns, and FMLA clarification. She says her experience at Davenport empowered her. “It allowed me to believe in myself and it has given me the opportunity to show my children that you can achieve whatever you set your heart and mind to accomplish.” Learn more about April and her journey below.

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Tell us about yourself!

My name is April Braman, I live in Hartland, Michigan. I am a 41 year old single mother of a 10 year old daughter and an 8 year old son, who are my heart, soul, and driving force behind everything that I do.

Why did you pick Davenport?

Davenport is the only accredited university to offer the Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Case Management, which is the career path I’ve slowly been working toward for the past decade. When I enrolled to in the program, I was living out of state and the portability of online classes was exactly what I needed. When I learned that the instructors are all experienced professionals with real world experience, it made sense because their answers and advice all came from that point of view

As a graduate of DU, when you think of your experience what comes to mind?

I love Davenport! The support the faculty and staff offered and the setup of their programs was exactly what I was looking for.  I am actually enrolled again as a graduate student earning my MBA with healthcare concentration.  My experience over the years has made me feel empowered, it allows me to believe in myself, and it has given me the opportunity to show my children that you can achieve whatever you set your heart and mind to accomplish.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

I am a case manager with the University of Michigan. We manage the short and long-term disability cases for our own employees, assist them with ADA accommodations, return to work concerns, and FMLA clarification.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment is two-fold.  The first is passing the Certified Case Manager exam in December 2016, and the second was forging a partnership through U of M to accept our first Davenport medical case management practicum student this semester (Winter 2017).

What is your dream job?

My dream job is to work from home as an active medical case manager, while also becoming a professor for future medical case management students.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I ever received is to be your own biggest cheerleader.  Whenever you are faced with a difficult decision or circumstance, think of the best advice you would give to your child or another loved one, and say it to yourself.

Are you are you passionate about?

I am passionate about being a great example for my children, and loving that I am able to watch two wonderful people grow and change throughout the years into the thoughtful adults they are both destined to become.

What do you do when you are not working?

When I am not working I am usually doing something with my children.  Now that I am enrolled in a graduate program at Davenport, my evenings are also spent working in my classes.  When I get some time to myself, I decompress by spending time with my friends, because laughter really is the best way to unwind.

Following Grandpa’s Footsteps – Roger Luurtsema & Allison Luurtsema #TBT Story

“I chose Davenport because I wanted instruction that was practical and directly applicable to my career,” Roger Luurtsema explained.  Now, nearly 65 years later, his granddaughter Allison Luurtsema is following in his footsteps; eager to learn and grow at Davenport.

Roger was born to Peter and Lillian Luurtsema in their Grand Rapids home in 1932 and graduated from Ottawa Hills High School. He knew he wanted to go into sales because he had uncles he admired who were salesmen and because he had “the gift of gab” and a sense of humor.

He enrolled at Davenport after high school in 1950 and still recalls that many of his instructors left a lasting impression.  Like instructor Andy Anderson, who tricked a shy boy into overcoming his fear of public speaking in the Dale Carnegie class or the commercial law instructor who was a lawyer and also an artist and illustrated principles of law with cartoon style drawings.

“Our class was very close and had a lot of comradery. We were on the second floor of the Fulton and N. Division street building. The first floor had retail stores and a restaurant where we often socialized over coffee and donuts,” Luurtsema reflected.

He appreciated that his classes were always led by people who were successful in their professional fields.  Roger remembered Robert Sneden as a good teacher who was professional, sophisticated and businesslike and added that, “we were all in awe of Mr. Davenport.”

“I am happy with my choice of attending Davenport,” said Roger. “Throughout my forty-five year career in sales, the fundamental principals were the thing that carried me through and that show the quality of the training.”

Roger earned his diploma for completing his salesmanship course from the Davenport-McLachlan Institute in 1951. He married five years after graduating from college and moved to Ann Arbor, MI to start his long, successful career.

Roger worked at a few different companies before settling in at EcoLab where he spent more than 33 years as a salesperson with a territory spanning from Lansing to Detroit. He also found success in translating his education and experience into training other salespeople.

During this time period, Roger and his wife, Wilma, started a family. They have five children, fifteen grandchildren, seventeen great grandchildren and more on the way.

One of his granddaughters, Allison Luurtsema, started at DU in the fall of 2016. Allison grew up playing soccer with her father, Phil, who also spent many hours on the soccer field as a kid. “She has won all the awards you can win, including the top female athlete of her high school,” said her proud grandfather.

When it came time to look for colleges, Allison knew she wanted to play soccer and pursue nursing. One of her coaches recommended Davenport. As her family researched options, Roger showed her a promotional piece with his photo on it from his days at Davenport.

Roger’s experience sparked Allison’s interested in Davenport. “I think it is a great connection to have with my grandpa. Similar to my connection with my dad and soccer, I am able to follow in my grandpa’s footsteps at Davenport, building a family legacy.”

Allison’s first year as a Davenport University nursing student at the W.A. Lettinga Campus is off to a great start. Soon, she will have stories of her own about teachers, student life and classwork to share with her family.

Do you have a Davenport legacy story? Davenport University legacy families are families who have a multi-generational connection to the University. The University identifies legacy students as those who have had a family member or members graduate from DU. Submit your legacy story to alumni@davenport.edu!

 

Alumni Success Story – Kate Gadbois ’12

As a child, Kate’s family repeatedly told her she should be an attorney due to her exceptional ability to argue. At first, the length of schooling required turned her off. But thanks to her incredible professors and experience in DU’s paralegal program, Kate graduated in 2012 and went on to pursue her law degree. Now, she is working as an Associate Attorney with Kreis, Enderle, Hudgins & Borsos, P.C, specializing in corporate & business law and estate planning & probate. Learn more about Kate and her journey below.

Tell us about yourself!

I was born and raised in Grand Rapids. My family, mainly my mother, told me many times that I should be an attorney (apparently this suggestion came about because I mastered the talent of arguing at a young age).  Being an attorney sounded great, but the amount of schooling required deterred me.  After high school, I wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to pursue.  When I came to Davenport, one of my first classes was Introduction to Paralegal Studies, taught by Barb Craft.  The very first day of this class, I knew that the legal field was where I was meant to be.  I also knew that, after obtaining a bachelor’s degree, I would attend law school and become an attorney.  I graduated from Davenport in December of 2012 and started law school in January of 2013.  I am now living in Portage, working as an Associate Attorney with Kreis, Enderle, Hudgins & Borsos, P.C., a full-service law firm with four West Michigan locations in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, St. Joe, and Battle Creek.

Why did you pick Davenport? 

I picked Davenport because of its great reputation, small class sizes, experienced professors, hands-on practical opportunities, and its location.

As a graduate of DU, when you think of your experience what comes to mind?

The first thing that comes to mind: the amazing professors.  The legal professors were incredibly experienced, which to me, was invaluable.  Each specific story shared by a professor was memorable (and even better if also humorous) and these stories certainly helped me retain the concepts behind the stories.  My legal professors are not the only professors that come to mind. My accounting professor, Grant Lee, went above and beyond.  I have never had a professor who truly cared about their students in the obvious way Professor Lee cares about his.  Accounting was definitely not my strong suit (which is a fairly common joke among lawyers and their math-related skills), but Professor Lee made a world of difference.  I didn’t ace his class, but I made it through with a much better outcome than anticipated because of Professor Lee’s investment and encouragement.  I am confident that Professor Lee has positively influenced a large majority of his students, and I am grateful that I had him as my accounting professor.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

My main practice areas are corporate & business law and estate planning & probate.  I listen, analyze, strategize, anticipate potential issues and/or help guide clients through situations they may find themselves in, negotiate, counsel, and assist clients in achieving their goals.  I handle any and all business needs for any size or type of business. Whether it’s forming an entity; drafting, reviewing, or negotiating various types of contracts or forms; assisting with the purchase or sale of assets; acquiring companies, real estate, and everything in between; compliance; restructuring; succession planning; and any other business-related need.

Estate plans are essential for individuals and business owners. I assist clients in determining and addressing their specific needs, the needs of their family, and the future of the companies that they worked so hard to build.  This part of my job is rewarding because I am able to give my clients the peace of mind that they have taken the appropriate steps for their family and that their wishes will be followed.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

At this point in my life, I have to say that my biggest accomplishments include graduating, cum laude, from law school, passing the bar exam, and working, as an Associate Attorney, with Kreis Enderle – the firm I knew I wanted to be a part of a few years ago.

What is your dream job?

This is exactly what I want to be doing.  I love my career and the firm I am a part of.  Kreis Enderle is a great size law firm with exceptionally bright and experienced attorneys in each area of the law.  I could not ask for a better group of people to work with.  I worked in our Grand Rapids office, as an extern during law school, and I knew then that I would love to end up working, as an Attorney, with Kreis Enderle.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Positive thinking can have an enormous influence on your life – it’s a powerful tool that we all have the ability to control.  It is so beneficial to regularly think about the things in your life that you are thankful for; even more so when you find yourself in a frustrating situation.

Some additional good advice: be thankful for what you have & keep working for what you want tomorrow.

What are you are you passionate about?

I am passionate about and fascinated by the law.  I am passionate about helping people.  It is also probably safe to say that I am also passionate about animals.  If I see a stray animal, there’s no doubt I am stopping to try to help – I’ve done so too many times to count.  I’d want someone to do the same if it were my dog running loose in the street!

What do you do when you are not working?

I am still fairly new to the Kalamazoo area so a lot of my free time is spent exploring all that my new city has to offer, especially the restaurants!  I am looking forward to checking out the local farmers markets next summer.  Community involvement is very important to me.  I attend as many events as possible and I recently became a Board Member of Glass Art Kalamazoo!

Alumni Success Story – Pat McPherson ’06

From stump grinding to mopping factory floors, Pat McPherson ’06 has had some dirty jobs. But, thanks to his interest in IT, Pat pursued education at Davenport University where he earned his BS in Computer Networking. Now, Pat leads a team at ITS Partners as a senior sales engineer solving IT problems for clients all over the world. Learn more about Pat and his journey to ITS below.

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Tell us about yourself, Pat!

I am from a little farm town called Lakeport, Michigan. Growing up my plan was to be a truck driver just like my dad. However, my high school received its first computers during my senior year and I fell in love. I took a few computer classes at the tech center where I learned Cisco and Oracle. After high school, I went to DU because of its reputation of training excellent IT professionals. My road to graduation wasn’t easy – I had to work many dirty jobs to help pay for school. Overall, my time at DU was a great experience and I graduated in 2006 with a BS in Computer Networking. Now, I work at ITS as a senior sales engineer.

You mentioned you worked many “dirty jobs.” What are some of the jobs you worked?

Well, money was tight and I had to pay for school. My first “dirty job” was working for the Lakeport Market and was the “human” bottle sorter before the pop can machines came out. Next, I moved on to Meijer and worked as a pop can machine cleaner. Looking back, I do not know what was grosser, sorting the bottles from the plastic bags at Lakeport Market or cleaning the pop can machines at Meijer. At the same time, I worked at our family business doing stump grinding. Next, I worked at the Lakeport State Park for a summer, mowing lawns, weed wacking, digging out fire pits, and cleaning the bathrooms and showers. Finally, my dad got me a job mopping the floors at a local factory. I would go to class Monday – Thursday, and then drive to Detroit and work Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I mopped the factory floors for four years until I finished college.

From driving truck to IT, why did you pick Davenport?

I went to Davenport because I was interested in technology. As soon as I got to Davenport, my experience was exactly what I’d hoped. I had some amazing professors. Nancy Hanson was awesome and I took all of her Cisco classes. I enjoyed the Microsoft classes with Ron Draayer and programming classes with Pete Anderson.

How did you get a job at ITS?

My professor, Nancy Hansen had connections at ITS. She told the whole class to apply for their entry-level engineer program, which took students interested in IT through an extensive training and externship process. I had my first interview and then six months later I was asked to come in again. The second time they were not interested in my experience and said that they could not hire me. I was pretty bummed, so I went home and continued to work has a stump grinder. I had enough money for about two weeks. But, I got a call a few weeks later saying I got the job! Luckily for me, the CEO, Wade, insisted that they hire me. Wade really like my story of persistence, especially the stump-grinding story. I was the only person out of the whole class who got the job.

In a nutshell, what do you do now?

I have held a few positions at ITS. I started as a junior engineer, moved up to a engineer and instructor, then to senior engineer. I mainly focused on computers that needed updates or programs installed.  As a junior engineer, I would deploy computer systems to companies that had around 100 computers at a time for one client.  Then I worked my way up to senior engineer and would deploy systems management tools to enterprises that would consist of over 100,000 computers. I went from working in the bottle department at Meijer to later doing their systems management deployment across all their stores.

I moved into as sales engineer role about five years ago and was recently promoted to a senior sales engineer. In this position, I meet with clients and learn about their problems and try to come up with solutions. Before I was the one implementing the solutions, now I am the one designing and creating solutions for our clients all over the world.

What is your dream job?

Funny you ask. My dream job is to work at a deli shop or game stop. In my thinking, those jobs are less stressful but in all reality, it probably is not. This is probably some sort of retirement job. When my wife and I retire, our goal is to start a mobile petting zoo and get some goats, pig and chickens. We would offer the petting zoo free at kid’s birthday parties and events.

What do you do when you are not working?

I spend time with my wife, Jenna, and my one-year-old daughter, Sophie. I also enjoy spending time with our fur babies which consist of an English Bulldog, a Poma-Poh and a Shih-Tzu. They’re quite the odd wolf pack but we love them!

Alumni Success Story – Mohamad Abdulkader Agha ‘03

Chancellor Emeritus Donald W. Maine called it fate. Mohamad Abdulkader Agha ‘03 called it meant to be. Their serendipitous relationship is heartwarming. Learn more about Mohamad’s path to Davenport and his success as he lives and works in Dubai, leading the strategy team at the International Humanitarian City (IHC), part of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Global Initiatives foundation to improve 130 Million lives by 2025 through humanitarian and developmental work. Read more below.

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Nearly 6,000 miles from his home in Syria, Agha found a new place to call home in Grand Rapids in early 2001. His decision to come to America wasn’t easy. After losing his father at the age of 13 and his mother only nine years later, Agha found himself looking for guidance in his next step. Luckily, he has three older sisters who had his best interests in mind and encouraged him to gain a global perspective on life by pursuing his MBA in the United States.

His brother-in-law, who is a doctor in the Grand Rapids area, recommended that he check out Davenport because he heard that the class sizes were small and the professors used real-life experiences to teach the classes.

Agha recalled wondering why he should go to a school in a small city, when he could go to school in Los Angeles or New York City.  His brother-in-law’s advice was to go a place where he could have personal attention. Agha remembered his brother-in-law saying, “Don’t be a small fish in a big pond, be a big fish in a small pond.”

Agha started classes at Davenport in spring 2001 and in the summer he completed a graduate program at Georgetown University, then went back home to be with family. While he was home, the events that shook the world on September 11th occurred. Things were uncertain and he was unsure if he was going to return to Davenport.

“I got a phone call from Davenport,” said Agha. “The call was from my advisor.  She said, ‘Congrats, Mohamad! You have been awarded the international students’ scholarship this year. We look forward to your coming back to Davenport.’ And that call made me book my flight to come back.”

As his studies progressed, he continued to build relationships on campus. He got an invitation to speak at the international students’ luncheon because of his reputation for academic success and charismatic professionalism.

“I got up, I did my speech and after I was done, I was asked to join a table with the former president of Davenport University, Don Maine. I shook hands with him and we introduced ourselves to each other. I was sitting there, enjoying being next to the “big man on campus,” yet not really knowing who he was. Then, the former VP of Alumni & Development walked up and said, “Mohamad, that gentleman paid for your scholarship. Your scholarship is the Maine Family International Student Scholarship!”

From that moment, Agha and Maine clicked. Although there was a difference in age and experience, they became friends.

Maine recalled, “When I realized international students did not receive financial aid, I wanted to direct my donation to those international students who needed it, kids like Mohamad. It is the humanitarianism in me. I enjoy helping young global talents.”

As Agha’s career flourished, so did their friendship. “We used to have lunches that lasted two to three hours to discuss global affairs at a restaurant in East Grand Rapids. At that point in my life, I didn’t have a father. So guidance was either spontaneous, by observing others, or by Don giving me the time and mentoring me step by step.”

Agha consulted and updated Maine about every chapter of his life. After earning his MBA from Davenport, Agha worked at Ernst & Young. Next he was recruited by the United Nations. At the age of 30, he was the youngest director hired at the UN to manage the Private Sector Development Program. He led the UN Global Compact as a representative and secretary general to its Advisory Council for five years.

In 2012, Agha left the Middle East. He took a job at the World Logistics Council as the director of strategic partnerships to lead a global team which coordinated with organizations from 56 countries involving the top technology, finance, insurance and semi-government organizations.

Now, Agha and his wife, Rim, and baby twins (Abdulkader & Ayla), live and work in Dubai. He leads the strategy team at the International Humanitarian City (IHC), part of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Global Initiatives foundation to improve 130 Million lives by 2025 through humanitarian and developmental work.

“Here is a person whose country has collapsed,” said Maine. “He built a brand new global career. There are a lot of people who could not do that. He now has mastered the culture of the UAE and risen to the point of being entrusted to serve its global initiatives. He left Damascus to work in Geneva and Kuala Lumpur and then made his way back to the Middle East.”

What makes Agha’s relationship with Davenport so special is the personal attention he was given by Maine and the professors. He left Davenport with high academic knowledge and the culminating experience of all of the individuals who shared their experiences and knowledge with him.

“I am thankful for Don Maine because he filled a void in my life. Yes, his scholarship has made a huge difference in my life, but money could be replaced. What isn’t replaceable is his experience and later on his friendship and love that keeps growing. Thank you, Don Maine!”

Volunteer for BPA & DECA

Business Professionals of America (BPA) and DECA need your help!

  • On February 4, 150+ DECA students will meet to network, learn business strategies and showcase their skills at the weekend-long Career Development Conference. We are in need of industry leaders and professionals to judge these events, specifically we need an accounting event judge on February 4, 2017 from 7:45am-5:00pm at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids. Interested? Please email Suzanne Gut.
  • On February 11, hundreds of students will gather at the W.A. Lettinga Campus for the Business Professionals of America State Leadership Conference. BPA needs more than 40 volunteer judges, graders and greeters to help at the conference. If you are interested in volunteering on February 11th, please contact Scott Gumieny.
  • On March 4 at the W.A. Lettinga Campus, middle school students will compete at the BPA State Leadership Conference. BPA is looking for volunteers to be judges, proctors and graders in the morning and early afternoon. If you are interested, please contact Dara Carr.