Alumni Spotlight: Chris Aguwa

May 1, 2014

Chris Aguwa joined the Michigan men's basketball team as a walk-on and played an instrumental role on the practice squad during the 2002-03 season. The Wolverines won 13 straight games during their 17-13 season, including a dramatic 60-58 win over Michigan State at Crisler Center. Aguwa prepped at Birmingham (Mich.) Brother Rice, where he earned three varsity letters and was an all-state selection as a senior (2001). After graduating from Michigan with a degree in economics, he earned his J.D. from Howard Law School and is currently pursuing an MBA from the University of Oxford with plans to work in international finance.

Q. How did you decide to attend the University of Michigan?

A. I grew up in southeast Michigan, and I was strongly influenced by the Fab Five, the mid '90s football teams, Charles Woodson's battles with David Boston, and LaVell Blanchard. I knew I wanted to be a part of that, be a Michigan Man if you will. What made it easy for me to obsess over the athletic teams is that the University of Michigan is a great school attracting brilliant students from all over the globe. I was a strong student coming out of high school, and the breadth of U-M's course list stimulated my intellectual aspirations. I knew a four-year experience there would certainly help me achieve my potential, both academically and as a human being.

Q. When you arrived at Michigan, what was your experience like?

A. At U-M, there were endless opportunities to engage in striking conversation and healthy debates over delicate topics that stretched my world view. I quickly realized the truth of Donne's words: "No man is an island entire of itself." There is a world of diversity reflected on the campus, and my engagement with it strengthened my connection to the international community. U-M is where I learned how to network, communicate, cultivate relationships, nurture friendships and build on mistakes.

Q. What was your experience as a student-athlete like?

A. My experience as a student-athlete was the highlight of my young life, but not without obstacles. Within a few weeks of joining the team, I was diagnosed with a blood clot in my left calf and was told I could not play for six months. With the support of the training staff, coaches and teammates, I was able to resume physical activities within four months. Meanwhile, I was an economics major and took 15 credits the fall semester and 18 during the winter term of my sophomore year. Figuring out how to optimize my time was key during this period. Studying while dehydrated, tired or while traveling with the team were challenges I overcame in order to compete in the classroom. Moreover, Coach (Tommy) Amaker would preach "next play" constantly, meaning to move on to the next task as opposed to dwelling on some past event over which you have no control. I often draw upon this period of my life and the lessons learned to persevere through trials and difficulties today. Also, by experiencing the time commitment and physical grind involved first hand, I developed a strong respect and admiration for the college athlete.

Chris Aguwa

Q. What did you do upon graduation from Michigan?

A. After U-M, I went straight to Howard Law School and graduated in 2008. I have been practicing law for five years and wanted to diversify my skill set with an MBA and pursue finance opportunities thereafter. As the world witnessed first hand, the financial markets are globally intertwined. I chose the University of Oxford MBA because of the exposure to an international business network, its advanced financial modeling modules, its renowned private equity institute, and the opportunity to study abroad. More significant to me was the pride my father had when he heard that I had been accepted at Oxford just days before he tragically passed away on May 1, 2013 from a car accident in Nigeria. His pride was reflected in the passion with which he shared the news with friends and family. I love and respect my father. I would have never been a student at U-M without him, nor would I have had the experiences that molded me without my parents' love and support.

Q. What are your plans after you receive your MBA?

A. I will graduate this fall, and I am currently pursuing and interviewing for investment/advisory roles in New York City, London, and Miami. We are the sum of our experiences and my experience at Michigan was remarkable. It undoubtedly helped me prepare for the world beyond the intersection of South University and State Street and enlightened me to many things unknown prior. If I am blessed with children, they will go to the University of Michigan and live in West Quad, Chicago House! Go Blue!

The recently created Office of Alumni Engagement strives to foster a community, recognize the holistic student-athlete and honor the great Michigan Athletics history. This alumni spotlight illustrates the impact that our alumni are having around the world and how they stay engaged with Michigan.

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