Since 1973, the CSSLA ceremony has recognized outstanding student leaders and student volunteers who, while maintaining high academic achievement, demonstrate a commitment to the UIC community through participation in student organizations and campus activities and throughout the greater Chicagoland area through active service and community engagement. One of this year’s award recipients was Michael J. Mlekowski, an MBA candidate at UIC Liautaud. Below, Michael tells us about his work for the UIC Liautaud Graduate School of Business.
I did not come from a business background, so after I arrived at UIC Liautaud, I spent the better part of my first semester wondering whether I belonged here. My fellow Liautaud students brought me into the fold, and helped me thrive socially and intellectually, therefore any recognition I deserve they also deserve.
Before attending college, I was in the Marine Corps, and Marines are taught to leave an organization in better condition than we found it. I entered Liautaud with that intention, and student organizations have been one way to accomplish that. Most of my work has been for Net Impact, for whom I serve as “Environmental Chairperson”–an atypical officer position at UIC Business, but one I hope will become more important. Net Impact promotes corporate social responsibility and environmental initiatives related to business. We have chapters at all the major universities nationwide, and professional chapters as well.
I think of myself as working for all the student organizations at UIC Business. We all need each other’s support. As a big brother to two sisters, I see a lot of value in the mission of the Women’s Network, for example. Their VP, Christina Rodriguez Leal, stands out to me, because she has helped me connect our student organizations. The sense of welcoming and inclusivity I get from her has been an inspiration. It’s important for all the student organizations to be interconnected, and for members of one to be exposed to the work of another. It gives us all a broader sense of the values and viewpoints that make up the business world.
I also do a lot outside of the student organizations. I’ve been organizing a regular Thursday social–as a supply chain management student, the logistics come easily to me–and it’s become its own little leadership retreat, where students from the different corners of Liautaud get together and discuss their work and ideas. My role here is to foster a situation conducive to everyone’s development, and I think of it as an expression of the servant leadership model that many of us have learned about at Liautaud.
I also have a graduate assistantship in the Admissions Office, and part of that is to be the head coordinator for the Student Ambassador program. Ambassadors are our most important recruitment contacts for prospective students, and we try to ensure that all the different degree tracks within UIC Business are represented among them. As an MBA, I can only speak to part of the UIC experience, but one thing I try to pass on across the different fields is the idea of mutual support throughout the programs and student organizations. “A rising tide lifts all ships,” as the saying goes. Anything I do to build a better program benefits myself and my peers.