Mitchell Zajac (B.S.E’12, Mechanical Engineering; B.A.’12, German BA; M.S.E. Mechanical Engineering)
How were you involved on campus?
I was involved in a lot! Starting linebacker on the football team, involved in many engineering groups, member of Lee Honors College, leader of Lee Honors College Peer Student Success Team, student-athlete tutor at the Ellis Academic Center, leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, I coached some high school wrestling at Kalamazoo Central, heavily involved in several Kalamazoo charities and non-profits, had summer jobs at the Library and Captain Lous, was an intern for Congressman Upton, volunteer at Portage Central as a mentor, member of Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, and probably some more that I’m forgetting.
Hometown: Holt, MI
Current Location: Howell, MI
Job Title and Company/Organization: Attorney, Butzel Long
My youth and high school dreams included playing college football from as far back as I can remember. When I was looking for a college to attend, to study engineering, and play college football, I was searching for the right balance between superior athletics and world-class academics. In doing so, I visited many college campuses and had to consider whether I wanted to be a college football player or a college wrestler. I weighed the opportunities I had to attend ivy league schools (Harvard and Princeton) to play football and Stanford to wrestle. I selected WMU not only for the unique balance of athletics and academics but the culture, the community, and opportunity near and long term.
I attended WMU on a full football scholarship and from the first time I visited campus, I was hooked. I met with then coach Bill Cubit, who I spent all four years with and who I see as a mentor and friend even today; with engineering faculty liaison Fred Sitkins, who gave me advice that still rings true and that I still rely on in my career and personal endeavors; and I met with members of the Lee Honors College including Dean Nicholas Andreadis, who ultimately would open doors for my personal quest for academy and service.
As I thought about my goals then, and recall them even today, the balance of both the opportunity to play collegiate and professional football AND to set myself up in a career in engineering, to have hands-on, practical training in solving engineering problems and more, remain literal cornerstones of my development and metaphorical goals that I seek always to attain as I take on new endeavors and adventures. My current goals have only changed slightly, and that’s because the method and process I use to set and achieve goals are rooted in all that I learned from WMU. I still credit my WMU training and experience with the trajectory of my career. Instead of only concerning myself with the ability to solve engineering problems, now I have the opportunity to take that knowledge and experience to address larger business problems in the automotive and other technical-focused industries. I continued my training at WMU-Cooley, and am so proud of that education and experience. Now, as a board member of the WMU Alumni Association AND as a board member of the WMU-Cooley Board of Directors, I strive to embody the ideals of hard work, academic fortitude, and more that I learned as a student at WMU.
My experience and connections at WMU are undoubtedly the foundation of my career and success. What I learned to do, what I learned about-- how to approach problems, and the people I met are ALL part of my career today, and I see that as continuing into the future.