Alumni Voices

Leadership OU Volunteers Encourage a New Generation of Leaders

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Leadership OU

icon of a calendarApril 7, 2022

icon of a pencilBy Noor Hindi

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Leadership OU volunteers are inspiring the next generation of changemakers and thinkers. Through a mentorship program that pairs students with industry leaders, the eight-month program gives OU alumni the chance to give back to the community and help shepherd a new wave of trailblazers.

“Leadership OU holds a special place in my heart,” says mentor Taylor Eberhart, who graduated from Oakland University with a Bachelor of Social Work in 2015. “My mentee and I worked through the fears and challenges that arise when graduating. Through this, we got to know each other as people and helped each other grow.”

Established in 2013, the program has paired over 100 alumni volunteers with students. By serving as mentors and speakers, alumni provide leadership training, networking opportunities and career information to students on the brink of graduating and beginning their careers. Through job shadowing, lunch or coffee meet-ups and phone calls, alumni have the opportunity to share their unique life experiences and professional advice.

Leadership OU creates opportunities for alumni to give back to current students and their alma mater in a way that is rewarding and meaningful for both mentor and mentee. In fact, some students who participated in Leadership OU have become mentors themselves later in life.

Amanda Silvestri, a graduate of Leadership OU, serves as the student engagement and outreach coordinator for the program. Experiencing this program through the eyes of a student and, now, as a person who works with alumni mentors gives her a unique perspective on the value of the program. “Many alumni say that they didn't have a formal mentor while they were going through college and that is why they would like to mentor a current OU student — to give their mentee all of the information they wish they knew, and opportunities they wish they had known about, when they were in college,” she says.

Through the program, students are paired with a mentor and asked to attend eight sessions featuring prominent alumni speakers who live and work in the community. Past speakers have included Oakland University alumni employed at Beaumont Hospital, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Curve Detroit, ABB Robotics, and more.

Speakers focus their presentations on how leadership, mentorship and networking have played critical roles in their professional careers. The sessions typically take place at the worksite of the speaker, which gives students a behind-the-scenes, hands-on experience in that particular industry.

“As a student, Leadership OU not only introduced me to a caring mentor, new peers, new career professionals, new job opportunities, and amazing memories, but Leadership OU changed how I view myself as a leader and instilled a new found confidence in me,” says Kaylee Hall, a Leadership OU mentee who expects to graduate in 2023.

While students and alumni volunteers understand the importance of Leadership OU, the program has also received more widespread recognition over the years for its impact on participants. The Council for Advancement and Support for Education (CASE), a global leader in education-related metrics and benchmarks, recognized Leadership OU with “Best Student Alumni Program,” “Best Practices in Alumni Relations,” and “Best Volunteer Engagement Program” awards.

This year’s Leadership OU cohort was thrilled to hear from a special lineup of alumni speakers who volunteered their time to share personal experiences with the students. Speakers included:

  • Curtis Armstrong (MTD, 1975), Actor and singer
  • Dr. Tony Boganey (CAS, 1988), Endocrine Surgeon and Clinical Instructor at Naval Medical Center in San Diego
  • Chiara Clayton (CAS, 1998), Communications and Outreach Specialist at Area Agency on Aging 1-B
  • Michelle Collins (SBA, 2002), Global Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Borg Warner, Inc.
  • Joel Gibson (SECS, 1997), Executive Vice President of Automotive at Swift Navigation
  • Eddie Rayborn, Jr. (SEHS, 2014), Learning Consultant-Leadership and Career Development at StockX
  • Ron Roberts (SEHS, 1977), Superintendent at Chippewa Valley Schools

If you are an alumnus of Oakland University who is looking for a meaningful way to connect with your alma mater, consider becoming a Leadership OU mentor. Complete a Volunteer Interest Form to get started.

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