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Alumni Voices|

Board of Trustees

icon of a calendarMarch 5, 2023

icon of a pencilBy Jennesa Kreiner

There and Back: The OU Impact

Alumni return to OU to serve on the Board of Trustees

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Robert Hall

Governing the fate of Oakland University, the OU Board of Trustees is equipped with eight appointed members. These individuals oversee the university’s direction and expenditures, among a multitude of other important tasks, including the appointment of the university’s president. Of OU’s eight-member board, five are alumni, providing a unique perspective on the needs of Oakland University’s future.

Robert (Bobby) Schostak | General Studies/Business Management

Bobby Schostak, GEN ’78, was committed to finishing his OU degree while working full time in his family-based real estate business. He enrolled in night classes at OU, focusing on business management, communication and economics. “I would work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the East Side and then get to OU for class from 6-10 p.m. every night,” he recalls.

Schostak credits his communication professor and adviser, J. Harold Ellens, Ph.D., for his mentorship and support in building a personalized curriculum plan. “At the time, OU did not offer a business degree, and Dr. Ellens helped guide class selections that fit both my life and career goals,” says Schostak, currently co-CEO of Schostak Brothers & Company, among other ventures.

In the early 2000s, Schostak was invited to serve on the College of Arts and Sciences advisory board, which he describes as a true honor and the start of his journey back to OU. Because of his positive experience connecting education and career simultaneously, Schostak cares deeply about the student experience and is committed to giving back to the university. His family established the Schostak Family Foundation Endowed Fund, pledged support to OU's William Beaumont School of Medicine and, most recently, Schostak and his wife, Nancy, helped launch the Dennis Muchmore Public Policy Series.

Joe Jones | Communication

As a native Detroiter, Joe Jones, CAS ’94, says his decision to attend OU just seemed right. “I was close to the city, yet far enough from home to have my own real-life experiences,” he says. It took some time to adjust to his new life on campus, but he looks back on it fondly as the place where he grew up, matured and evolved.

After graduation, Jones found his way back to Detroit, working in the grassroots community for two years before traveling across the state to lead a historic civil rights organization. All the while, Jones says he would keep his eye on OU from afar, proudly watching the university advance and always feeling connected.

In 2020, Jones was invited to apply for a seat on the board and jumped at the opportunity. A year later, he founded the Hekima Group, a consultancy offering expertise in diversity, equity and inclusion, and multicultural communications. “More than anything, I experienced a sense of belonging while at OU,” Jones says. “I find myself in a most advantageous position in terms of being empathetic to the student who comes to OU from a space very different from their home.”

Trina Scott | Finance

Trina Scott, SBA ’96, knew she was destined for a career in business. From an early age, Scott’s parents encouraged her to pursue the field because it was relatable to any industry. Once at OU, she received further guidance from Professor Prasada Dada, who was instrumental in helping Scott land her first internship. “My internship led to full-time employment at the start of my career in auditing, which took me around the world to over 14 countries,” Scott says.

Although Scott’s career started in the healthcare industry, she has also worked for a major pharmaceutical company and a Big Four accounting firm, where she later transitioned into human resources and corporate social responsibility — each shift evidence of her parent’s advice ringing true. Along the way, Scott developed a passion for people and a commitment to helping the underserved. She launched a youth mentor program that centered around college access and persistence in U.S. cities, which helped over 1,000 young people attend college.

Now vice president of Civic and Community Affairs at Rocket Companies, Scott says it was OU that prepared her for practical business experiences and provided the resources to help jump start her career. In addition to being a proud alumnus, Scott is a former OU women’s basketball player. “Having the ability to come back and make an impact at the administrative level is a dream come true,” Scott says.

Stefen J. Welch | Communication

At the start of his educational journey at Oakland University, Stefen Welch, CAS ’05, initially aspired to be an on-air sports personality. However, his path took an unexpected turn during a multicultural communication course taught by Professor Kellie Hay, Ph.D. There, Dr. Hay helped cultivate Welch’s passion for diversity and inclusion and ultimately sparked his decision to pursue it as a career.

While at OU, Welch was inspired to get involved and served as president of the Association of Black Students, was a member of the Student Life Lecture Board and Student Congress, and played intramural basketball. He recognizes many OU faculty and staff for their profound influence on his career path, which is attributed to his first role leading diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for the country’s largest mortgage lender and later a national retailer.

After graduating, Welch felt it was his responsibility as an alumnus to stay connected and give back to the OU community. He served on the board of the university’s Black Alumni Chapter and spoke at commencement and various career services events, among other volunteer services. “I love OU and the people. It’s hard to leave something that is a big part of who you are,” Welch shares. Today, he serves as the vice president of DEI for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, where he oversees the learning and development of curriculum as well as strategic business initiatives.

Colleen Ochoa Peters | Communication

Colleen Ochoa Peters, CAS ’87, never considered college until a high school competition brought her to OU. It was the first college campus she ever set foot on; she was awed by its energy and inspired by the people she met. At the time, Peters knew only a handful of people who went the college route but decided it was the path for her. She soon enrolled at OU as a first-generation college student.

While pursuing her degree in communication, Peters was active in student life. She chaired the Student Program Board and participated in both Student Congress and the Student Life Lecture Board. “I gained invaluable experiences and life lessons by collaborating with a team, managing events and advocating for the interests of others,” Peters shares. She also developed relationships with key university leaders, including Wilma Ray Bledsoe, former vice president of student affairs. Bledsoe encouraged Peters to get involved in national Hispanic student leadership efforts and supported her as a student representative to OU’s 25th Anniversary Committee.

Peters found that OU is a place where involvement leads to a foundation of leadership experiences and long-standing friendships. Over the last four decades of her professional career, Peters was inspired to connect with and advocate for the university, serving as Oakland University Alumni Association (OUAA) chair and OUAA assistant director. She also served on Meadow Brook Hall fundraising committees and was a founding advisory board member for OU’s Center for Civic Engagement.

“Serving on the OU Board of Trustees is truly a ‘full circle’ experience for me, and I’m committed to Oakland University’s mission to unlock the full potential of students — especially first-generation students,” Peters says.

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