Do you hear what I hear?

You probably don’t, but I wish you could. Just last week, I was visiting with an alumnus who has been out of Tech for fewer than ten years. As we talked, he said, “I applied to Tech and five others. When I received my acceptance letter to Tech, I threw the other five away… best decision I ever made, and worth every dollar invested.”

Over the course of the last few months, I have traversed the terrain of Wyoming, navigated the “T” in Boston, and explored much of southwestern Michigan and Chicago. I’ve met with owners of construction companies and startups, doctors in fellowships and residencies, senior consulting engineers, vice presidents and presidents, post-docs involved in cutting-edge research, and others just beginning or nearly concluding very successful careers. The resounding refrain I hear is about the value of a Michigan Tech education and how well it prepared these people for their chosen professions. Just this week, we received a very touching letter from the wife of a 1957 grad who recently passed away; it included minor details about his death with a personal note scrawled at the bottom: “He owed his success to MTU.”

It is a powerful thing to work with students as they learn to create the future; it’s equally as powerful to spend time with alumni who are living this future. From a doctor who came to the rescue during the recent Boston Marathon bombing to a Black Hawk helicopter pilot who served in Afghanistan to a young alumnus working as the lead construction engineer on one of the largest fertilizer plants in the world, these individuals are living the future we describe. I met one alumnus who told me about how he’s using nanotechnology probes inserted into cells to stimulate cell growth to speed up healing processes, while another is on his second successful startup providing manufacturing solutions to industry. My visits with our alumni are powerful and incredibly insightful.

On top of their professional careers, Tech graduates also find time to be involved in their communities. One commented about her involvement with Destination Imagination. Another served as vice chair of the student arm of the American Medical Association. Another is the coach of a university crew team, others are involved as hockey coaches, rally truck drivers, outdoor enthusiasts, and mentors for youth in their communities.

Last week, I attended a conference where Olympic athlete and philanthropist Jackie Joyner Kersee commented, “It’s not the loud voice among us but the quiet whispers and courageous voices of our students that allows our work to shine.” To this I would add the voice of our alumni, for it’s obvious that these individuals are living the mission we so earnestly strive to create.

Can you hear it? I hope so. Our mission is to prepare students to create the future, and it is evident we are succeeding.