Alumni Posts

Building the Future of UIC Business

Like so many UIC Business students, financial assistance was a key factor in Mac Gajek ᾽73 enrolling at the university. After receiving a scholarship from his father’s employer, Gajek, a first-generation American, entered into the accounting program at the college. Upon graduating from UIC, he obtained his CPA certification and began his employment with Arthur Andersen. Following significant success, he eventually became a partner at Deloitte, later retiring in 2013. He credits his experience at... read more

UIC Business Breaks #GivingTuesday Records

Thank you to those who participated in December’s Step Up for UIC Business Giving Tuesday challenge. Each year has improved upon the last, and this year’s Giving Tuesday was the most successful to date for both the college and the university. This year, our college goals were to have a minimum of 100 donors participate in the challenge and to receive at least five gifts of $1,000 or more. Our Giving Tuesday 100 donor challenge was led by alumnus Dan Fortman CPA ’81, and our leadership donor... read more

Five Questions for Dave Henkes

David Henkes is a Senior Principal within Technomic’s Advisory Group and is responsible for directing strategic consulting and research assignments for clients active in the food, beverage, equipment and related industries. As a senior member of the firm, his specific responsibilities include client engagement, project oversight and general industry relations. He also oversees the firm’s Beverage Practice. Dave is a well-known commentator on the food and beverage industry and has appeared on... read more

Partners in Business, Friends for Life

The friendship between Maria Prado ’86 and Hilda Renteria ’86 began at the UIC library in the mid-80s. They were both undergraduate students at the College of Business Administration majoring in accounting, and Prado asked to join Renteria’s study group. That moment would determine so much of their professional and personal lives for decades to come. Prado and Renteria’s passion for accounting began for both in high school after taking a bookkeeping class. They enrolled at UIC to study business... read more

Six Questions for Manny Favela

UIC Business caught up with alumnus Manny Favela BS ’88 and asked him six questions about his career experience in the restaurant industry. 1) What inspired you to become an entrepreneur and found Burrito Parrilla Mexicana? My decision to retire from McDonald’s after nearly 30 years was mostly driven by two reasons: I wanted to spend more time with my family and I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to making a difference in people’s lives in the areas of faith, employment and education.... read more

UIC Business Alumnus Brad Sargent Lights the Flame

On January 12, UIC Business alumnus Brad Sargent ’99 joined a lineage of distinguished alumni in the ceremonial Lighting of the Flame. The Lighting of the Flame tradition started in 1998, and every year select UIC alumni and friends serve as official Torch Bearers, carrying a symbolic torch to light the cauldron before a Flames home basketball game at the Credit Union 1 Arena.   A longtime champion of UIC and Flames basketball, Sargent exemplifies UIC values and commitment to excellence.... read more

UIC Business Establishes Get to Graduation Fund

In a given year, more than one hundred UIC Business students find themselves in a sudden, precarious financial situation that prevents them from graduating on schedule. Medical emergencies, disruptions in family income and other unplanned events transpire, and students who would otherwise be graduating in a semester or two are stuck in financial limbo.  Assistant Dean of Students Angela Prazza estimates that $250 to $500 can determine whether these students graduate on time.   To ensure that... read more

An Entrepreneur with Taste

UIC Business alumnus details his success in the food and liquor industry Happenstance is how entrepreneur Pankaj “PK” Garg MBA ’90 describes his entry into the food and beverage industry. “It was an epiphany that came to me 35,000 feet in the air,” says Garg, founder of SōmruS, a premium spirits company founded in 2012. “I had just enjoyed an Eastern-inspired meal while traveling from India to the U.S. It was followed by a delectable Indian dessert called ras malai. I still needed my nightcap,... read more

The Lasting Impact of a UIC Business Education

As the first in his family to receive a college education, Don Hermanek (BS Marketing ’70) chose to attend The University of Illinois at Chicago for his undergraduate degree because he could commute, receive an affordable education, and work full-time at Goodyear Tires in Berwyn, IL to help pay for it. Little did Hermanek know how beneficial his UIC Business education would be.  Hermanek credits his UIC education with providing a strong foundation that extended beyond business theory. It gave... read more

UIC Business Alumnus Honored as 2017 Business Leader of Color

Mike Maali speaks to UIC Business Scholars at a 2016 event hosted by PwC. Mike Maali, BS ’88, is a Partner and the Midwest Regional Leader in Risk Assurance at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Chicago. UIC Business caught up with Maali after he was honored by Chicago United as a 2017 Business Leader of Color.  Maali talked about his time at UIC, the importance of diversity in the workplace, and his advice for current students.    Maali came to UIC in 1984, eventually earning a degree... read more

Making Change by Saving Change

ChangEd, a Chicago startup co-founded by a UIC Business graduate, hopes to transform our relationship with student loans.  Nick Sky ’13, took the time to talk with the UIC Business Blog about ChangEd’s founding, mission, and the role UIC Business played in making the concept behind ChangEd a reality. Sky and his brother started formulating the business plan for ChangEd in mid-2016 when his brother realized that the balance on his own student loans was not falling as fast as he would have liked,... read more

Founded by UIC Business Alumni: Fluxee

Photo by Yuuka Ikeshita by Yuuka Ikeshita   Keenan Jeffrey Artis, another business scholar, and I were hosted by Jose Sanchez and Raul Rosas at their offices in the Merchandise Mart of Chicago.  Sanchez and Rosas are UIC Business alumni and co-founders of the virtual reality startup Fluxee. Both graduated with Bachelor of Science degrees in Accounting in 2013. They gave us a tour of their offices and the communal startup space at 1871, Chicago’s digital startup incubator in the Merchandise Mart.... read more

A Chance to Change Someone's Life

  Al Heller ’75 Accounting, Operating Partner for Water Street Healthcare Partners, LLC Keeping the family tradition alive, and because it was most affordable, Al Heller (BS Accounting ’75) followed in his brothers’ footsteps and attended The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) for his undergraduate degree. Al wanted to be sure he received a “top notch” accounting education, which UIC was able to provide. Al earned his degree in accounting at the College of Business Administration while... read more

How a UIC Transfer Student Joined a Top Consulting Firm

Samu Thomas, BS ’16, has one piece of advice for UIC Business students: find your area of interest and focus. Thomas works as an IT consultant for Maven Wave Partners, where consultants like himself help clients like Nike, US Foods, Bosch, and other familiar names stay up to speed in the digital marketplace. Thomas found this work–and the IDS degree that led to it–after a little soul-searching of his own. “Early on in college, I was doing electronic and communications engineering,” Thomas says.... read more

Balancing Business and Technology at UIC

For Brandon Feld, BS ‘13, a regular day at the Googleplex involves a mix of project management and writing code in SQL, Java, and Python, a balance of duties Feld sought from the start, when he enrolled as a freshman IDS major at UIC Business. “Before I came to UIC, I was living in Northbrook, and trying to make a college choice between Arizona, Iowa, and a few University of Illinois campuses,” Feld says. Raised in a single-parent family, Feld said the in-state tuition helped him narrow his... read more

The Pursuit of Social Good at UIC Liautaud

Jill Kozeluh, MBA '12, has been busy with UIC lately. She recently participated in a housing and economic development panel hosted by UIC’s Net Impact chapter, where she introduced UIC Business students to the work of Accion Chicago. She also paid a visit to Professor Renko’s social entrepreneurship class to talk about microfinance for Chicago’s underserved entrepreneurs. On top of all this, she’s looking forward to a new connection between her work at Accion Chicago and a fresh partnership... read more

Catherine Yi, BS '11, on Her Path to Amazon, Inc.

When she was working for Leo Burnett in Chicago, Catherine Yi regularly met with UIC Business students on campus. “I met with students through Alumni 4U, and every meeting was different, depending on what each student wanted to learn,” says Yi. “But there was one piece of advice I had for everyone: start interning as soon as possible.” Yi’s path to her current role at Amazon included a series of internships during her time at UIC Business. Though some internships were more relevant than others... read more

Alumni Success Story: Chris Kearney BS Marketing '09

Chris Kearney, BS Marketing '09 Entrepreneur and owner of College Rising Photo Credit: Erica Minix Where did you grow up? I grew up in the west burbs of Chicago in Burr Ridge and Willow Springs. What prompted you to choose UIC? Did you enroll knowing you'd major in business?  I came to UIC as a transfer student from the College of DuPage and Joliet Junior College.  My two school options were UIC and UIUC. I had a few close friends at each school, but thought UIC was a great value compared to... read more

Alumni Spotlight: Haohao Li, MSA 2014

  Haohao Li MSA, 2014 Undergraduate Degree: Accounting Organizations Involved With: Master of Science in Accounting Association   Interests/Hobbies: Swimming, Yoga, and Piano Internships: Electronic Knowledge Interchange – Accounting Intern, Crowe Horwath China – Audit Intern, Bureau of Finance of Enshi Autonomous Prefecture – Accounting Intern Favorite Chicago Places: Millennium Park Favorite Chicago Restaurants: Too many to list :) Hometown: Enshi, Hubei,... read more

Where Are They Now: Vishal Wairagar, MS-MIS 2012

Vishal Wairagar MS in MIS 2012 Current Employer: Google Pre-Degree Field of Work: IT & Telecommunications Post-Degree Field of Work: Sustainability & EHS Software Solutions Undergraduate Degree: Bachelors in Computer Engineering Undergraduate Institution: University of Mumbai                        Why did you return to school to obtain your graduate degree? After completing my Bachelor Degree in Computer Engineering, I worked with Tech Mahindra - British Telecom for close to two years as a B2B... read more