By Shannia Sumugat

When I imagine Traverse City in the summertime, my mind wanders to thoughts of good weather, beautiful beaches, and an active nightlife. It is seemingly the ideal vacation spot here in Michigan. So when my supervisor from the Student Alumni Foundation told me that we were driving up to Traverse City for the weekend, I thought to myself, “Yes! I’ll finally get a vacation! Better pack up my bathing suit and sunscreen.” It turns out this trip to TC wasn’t focused on sunbathing or relaxation. We, the Student Alumni Foundation, were asked to assist with the golf outing event that was happening over the weekend. I will admit I experienced a bit of initial disappointment – I didn’t think that my first time “up north” in the Michigan summer was going to be about work. Little did I realize that my experience that weekend was nowhere near what I thought it would be.

Over the course of 31 years, the Grand Traverse Area MSU Alumni Club has awarded resident students attending Michigan State University more than $160,000 in scholarship funds. Awards are available to high school seniors in Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and Antrim counties. Northwestern Michigan College students transferring to MSU in the current year are also eligible to compete. Up to six $1,500 awards are given to students on a “merit” basis and are administered by MSU’s office of financial aid. The golf outing serves as a fundraiser, contributing to the continuation of awards to freshman and transferring students, and is a large event for alumni from the area. This year’s event featured a ton of special guest and MSU celebrities, including: Sparty, Will Tieman (MSU Basketball radio announcer); Drew Neitzel and Tim Bograkos (former MSU basketball players); the MSU Accafellas, our all male Acapella group; and the MSU Dance Team.

When we arrived, we had only a bit of time to soak up the sun and enjoy the beach — we squeezed in as much as we could. An hour later, we had to get ready to attend the wine tasting hosted by 2 Lads (a winery based in TC). The 2 Lads Wine Tasting event gave another chance for MSU Alumni, current students, faculty, and other MSU representatives to socialize and network with each other. (Luckily, being 22, I was able to try out all the different wine the company had to offer!) I had a great opportunity to socialize with MSU alums and listen to their stories about their time at State. One of the strongest take-away points I received came from Barry Gray, one of the board members of the Grand Traverse MSU Alumni Club. When I asked why he contributes so much, he said, “What better way to thank the MSU community who has given me so much than to return the favor to these future Spartans.”

As one of the representatives of SAF, I had an opportunity to work the SAF booth placed on a tee-off on the golf course. It was another opportunity for me to interact and network with every golfer who played through. In return, I was able to speak about what I do in SAF and our purpose. The entertainment was fun to watch as well (it served as our break from working the golf outing). The MSU Accafellas and Dance Team were there to make things a little bit more fun and the food was outstanding!  Instead of sitting with my fellow SAF members while I ate, I decided to be brave and ask a group of alums if I could sit at the table with them. I figured I’m at an alumni event and I might as well take advantage of the opportunity to interact and ask for some advice. My favorite part when networking is the advice I receive, and this opportunity was no different. Once I told the group that this will be my last year here at State, the advice came in abundance! They told me to enjoy every moment that I have and to not stress out too much, which made me a little nostalgic. I started to forget about the stress of the upcoming year and it made me rethink my perspective on being a senior in college and at MSU. They were right, the past three years have gone by so quickly, and I trust them when they say my last year would move by even faster.

I enjoy these kinds of events because it gives me a chance to not only network but to also open my mind up to other job opportunities that are out there. My mind has always been set on working in sports but, after talking to a few new faces and alums, I learned that someone like me (with a Communications degree) can do so many things and that the possibilities are truly wide open. I was told that I could work for the government and business companies as well, expanding my horizons beyond the exclusive sports industry. Talking to alumni gave me a better perspective on careers and life in general. My mind was so set on what I want to do but to know that there are other options out there. It helped made me to see the bigger picture.

If asked to summarize the experience, I would say the three most valuable things I took from this trip are: 1) To enjoy every moment in college because it will go by fast 2) Don’t be afraid to ask advice from alumni. They were once in your shoes and they know what it’s like to be unsure of the future. 3) Get involved with the University. You’ll never know what great opportunities are out there unless you search for them.

I had a great time in Traverse City, and maybe it wasn’t the “vacation” that I’ve always heard about, but in the end, I think I was able to gain a whole lot more than just a suntan.


 Shannia Sumugat is from Chicago, but has found out she likes Michigan more than she thought she would. She is entering into her Senior year as a Communications major at MSU. Additionally, she is one of the Executive Council Members for the Student Alumni Foundation and the Communications Assistant this summer for MSU Alumni Career Services.




Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: