Brandon's Blog: Alumni Engagement Important to All Involved

Nov. 4, 2013

University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page,, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

Last week, the University of Michigan Athletic Department Office of Alumni Engagement hosted its first networking and mentoring event. More than 25 of our Maize and Blue student-athlete alumni came together with approximately 75 of our current varsity student-athletes at the Junge Family Champions Center to talk about life after graduation and life after sports.

The networking/mentoring idea originally was developed for the Wolverine football team by one of U-M's football Academic All Americans, Clay Miller (1981-85). With the help of our department's Michigan Professional and Career Transition (M-PACT) Program, which is overseen by Shari Acho, this program became the blueprint for the Office of Alumni Engagement.

Miller, an All-Big Ten offensive lineman who started 36 consecutive games for the Wolverines, was more than willing to help develop a similar program for the entire student-athlete base here at U-M.

The evening started with a panel discussion featuring Brad Haudan (men's track & field, '02; managing director, Root Inc.), Jodi Navta (women's swimming & diving, '97; VP marketing & communications, Coyote Logistics) and Miller (football, '86; partner, Stone Arch Capital). They talked about the opportunities to leverage the student-athlete experience on a resume, interview tips, and how to maintain a network.

The current student-athletes then had the chance to interact with all of the alumni in the room representing various career fields. They found it comfortable talking to former student-athletes who have been through the day-to-day rigors of varsity competition. There was a mutual understanding of the high and lows, time constraints and other issues student-athletes face every day. Then there was the discussion of what happens next and how the alums worked their way into the new chapter in their lives.

For our former student-athletes, the opportunity to give back to the community of Michigan Athletics also proved invaluable. Not only can they take stock in helping the current student-athlete with life skills, the networking provides our alumni with a connection to a time and place they remember so fondly.

Our athletic team alums have been an integral part of the Michigan tradition, and they need to know that they are still an integral part of the Michigan team, and they still have something to offer for the future success of the program.

Networking and mentoring are also time-honored traditions. Now, the Office of Alumni Engagement will dedicate itself to making these events part of the time-honored Michigan athletic tradition.

This was a powerful and meaningful event for all involved. Not only did our current student-athletes come away with a better understanding of what the future holds, the former student-athletes were able to contribute something worthwhile back to their University of Michigan and continue the life-long bond that reminds all of our alumni that they are Wolverines for life.

Thank you to all who made the networking/mentoring event a success.

Go Blue!

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