Living Life's Lessons


Looking forward to new chapters in their lives and careers, Northwood graduates can feel confident in their ability to succeed. Grounded in a values-based global business education and belief in the power of free enterprise, Northwood alumni are creative problem-solvers setting out to make a difference in the world, well-prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. This year, 1,066 Northwood students proudly joined the ranks of Northwood alumni – 351 from our traditional undergraduate program in Midland, 121 from the DeVos Graduate School of Management, and 294 graduates of our Adult Degree Programs. From Florida and Texas, we graduated another 138 and 162, respectively.

Whether traditional students embarking on a brand new career or adult learners reinventing an established career, The Northwood Idea offers every graduate principles for life.

2016 graduates Julie Shields, Juan Guerrero, and Zina Lynch are living the life they learned at Northwood. A life of learning by doing. A life of doing what they love and loving what they do.

Julie Shields (’16)

lifeslessons_photo3Julie Shields had always wanted to visit Alaska, but never dreamed she would end up moving away from home alone for the first time to Anchorage. She did know, however, that she would end up working in sports promotion and marketing, her dream career. As the Marketing Community Engagement Associate for the Alaska Aces hockey team, Shields looks forward to the flexibility and opportunities that come with working for a smaller sports organization. As for the Alaskan winters…she’s not worried. She’s doing what she loves and looking forward to an active alumni relationship “back home” at Northwood.

Northwood: How did you decide to make a career in sports promotion and marketing?

Shields: Sports are a big part of my life. I’ve always been athletic (Shields played soccer for Northwood all four years), enjoying the camaraderie and team aspects of sports. Growing up I was a huge Red Wings fan, watching the games and even noticing and appreciating the organization’s family values and what they stand for. An Entertainment, Sport & Promotion Management degree was the obvious career choice for me. I couldn’t imagine my life without sports!

N: How did your Northwood classes prepare you for this career?

S: I’m just starting my professional career and I feel totally prepared because of the hands-on, experiential learning I received outside of the classroom at Northwood. During school, I had two internships, one with the Saginaw Spirit and one with the Meijer’s State Games of Michigan. I had the chance to learn what it really takes to work in sports promotion, and I had a lot of fun learning with the support of instructors who helped me apply the business lessons I learned in class to the real world. Now I have practical experience and networking connections that I can fall back on in my new career.

Juan Guerrero (’16)

lifeslessons_photo4Juan Guerrero likes being busy. As a freshman on Northwood’s Palm Beach, Florida, campus, he qualified for Northwood’s accelerated four-year BBA/MBA track. Even with his heavy class load and extracurriculars, Guerrero worked at a hotel, managed his family’s south Florida construction company and started a computer company of his own. Then in May of 2015, Guerrero stopped working. He left his family and his businesses behind and headed off to Midland’s DeVos Graduate School to focus on just one thing – learning business. Today, he’s picking up where he left off, living a life he loves but with a different approach in mind.

Northwood: How has your Northwood education helped you develop your career?

Guerrero: I love Northwood so much because of the connections I’ve made and the people I’ve met both in Florida and in Michigan. These are really valuable business and social connections I can use in any career, anywhere. Northwood really makes that happen for students through networking events, mentoring, internships and unbelievable faculty support.

N: What did graduate school at Northwood offer that was different from your undergraduate experience?

G: Philosophically, there’s a big difference between the two programs. As undergraduates we learned the basic business concepts and tools. The perspective in graduate school is broader with a focus on identifying root causes of problems and applying varying ideologies to solve those problems. It’s more about being able to connect with and lead people; to create a culture in which business can be successful.

Zina Lynch (’16)

lifeslessons_photo1Deciding on a business degree after turning her passion into a thriving non-profit, Zina Lynch is truly learning by doing … and re-doing. As the founder of 2-4 Life Project, a volunteer organization working to strengthen the lives of children and animals in Uganda, she began the non-profit in 2013 with little more than a passion for helping homeless children and animals in the slums of Kampala, Uganda.

Today, she manages all business aspects of the organization from the home she shares with her husband and two dogs in Florida. Armed with business tools and creativity inspired by her classes at Northwood, Lynch plans to refine the business processes she adopted for the organization early-on. With a strong sense of personal responsibility and community, Lynch is truly living her passion every day.

Northwood: Tell us more about the organization you founded.

Lynch: I founded 2-4 Life Project as an all-volunteer non-profit organization out of a commitment to improving the lives of children and animals. We provide practical assistance to vulnerable children and animals in Uganda, East Africa. 2-4 Life provides funding for medical care, education, and support for children whose families cannot afford such luxuries. I also travel annually to Uganda to organize a community animal clinic that provides free sterilization surgery and vaccinations. In February 2016, we officially opened the 2-4 Life Project classroom at St. Steven Primary School, a school located in a remote village in Western Uganda providing educational services to over 130 children.

N: What made you decide to get a business degree at this point in your career?

L: It was not an easy decision! I was inspired by the community volunteer work I had done and driven by my passion to help people and animals. And, I wanted to do the very best job I could, being effective and efficient in achieving my goals. When I realized that my job really reflects the Northwood philosophy of commitment and entrepreneurship, I came to the decision with the same drive I brought to my work.

N: What is the most important lesson you learned through your work at Northwood?

L: With every class I found new tools and principles to apply to the organization – ways I could streamline my practices and develop more effective strategies – but most important to me, I received a lot of positive feedback from my professors. Every one of them was interested in hearing what I had created so far and in helping me further the organization. Their validation made me feel that I am on the right track, no matter how spontaneous my decision was to start this organization that I love.