Alumni Michael and Marie Cleveland have been successful in their careers and are stalwart supporters of Michigan Tech. The couple met as students at Tech and have maintained close ties with the University since graduating in 1982, Michael with a BS in Chemical Engineering, Marie with a BS in Business Administration. They live in Northbrook, Illinois, and own a house in Hancock. Their daughter Kerstin has followed their footsteps to Michigan Tech; she is currently a sophomore in chemical engineering.
Both Michael and Marie are grateful for their education and feel part of a standout crowd. Tech graduates, Michael says, are practical, make decisions quickly, know how to troubleshoot, and are able to work with and manage people. “Tech trained me extremely well,” he says. Marie adds, “Tech is simply a fabulous school.” They want to pass along the same opportunity they had to today’s youth.
Michael says that majoring in chemical engineering was “a simple decision,” allowing him to hone his love of chemistry and pursue a discipline that promised high salaries. “The two parts gave me a career.” He sees his degree as a passport to a lifelong adventure—“travel where you want to go, and enjoy what you do.”
Marie came to Tech after attending its Women in Engineering program while in high school. Raised on a farm, she thought Houghton was a big town. She was shy but content in her new environs: “I was on my own. Being independent was the most fantastic part of that whole deal.” Being a woman at Tech, she adds, wasn’t uncomfortable. “I always felt like the guys were my pals. They looked out for me. It was a wonderful time for me.”
Marie has been at FedEx for 24 years. The firm operates in over 210 countries, and she is a worldwide corporate account manager bringing more than $55 million to FedEx each year through the six customers with whom she works. “It’s the best job in the world,” she says. “Tech prepared me better than most women I’ve known by giving me an education on how to bring solutions from various resources. I’m the only female manager in our division. The whole concept of being around guys—they treat you as equal if you treat them as equal.”
Michael has been at UOP, which is headquartered in Des Plaines, Illinois, for thirty years. The firm is a unit of Honeywell International, and Michael is the global business director, accountable for about one-fifth of UOP’s revenues in the petroleumrefining, petrochemical, and gasprocessing industries. These days, he spends much of his time in Asia, a key growing market for UOP.
Michael and Marie help the University with its fundraising initiatives; specifically, they support the School of Business and Economics, the Department of Chemical Engineering, and wherever else there are needs. They also have included a provision for a Michigan Tech endowed scholarship in their estate plans. “We’ve both been blessed,” Michael says. “We have a sound financial footing, and we want to provide a lasting influence, not only by donating money but also by giving our time. That’s an important part, too.” Accordingly, the couple hosts a networking group of Tech alumni every other month at their home. “Michigan Tech people want to be around other Michigan Tech people,” Marie notes. (If graduates get laid off, she says, they bring their resumes to share at the gathering.) Marie also promotes Tech with recruiting efforts at local high schools and community colleges, and she’s on the committee that is planning this summer’s special alumnae gathering at the 2012 Alumni Reunion. “What a great feeling to be a part of Tech,” Marie says. “It’s amazing how many opportunities there are to give back.” She is also a member of the Presidential Council of Alumnae, and she speaks in various departments on campus.
Why are they so loyal? Michael sums up their attitude: “The Michigan Tech mission is to offer students an education at a reasonable price, and prepare them for success. It’s a great value—a successful model. Somebody supported us when we were students. Now it’s up to us to do the same. We can make a difference.”