Monday Mentor Minutes- Lauren Aitch

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Spartan Lauren Aitch discusses her various roles as an entrepreneur, clothing designer, philanthropist, and former Spartan Basketball Player.

Athlete, entrepreneur, designer, philanthropist — Michigan State University alumna Lauren Aitch is all of these in one. From 2005-10, Aitch played center for the Spartans women’s basketball team. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just five years and played professionally overseas. Now, she runs two companies as well as her own foundation.

Aitch grew up with basketball — and green and white — in her blood. Her father, Matthew Alexander Aitch, played for Michigan State and the Indiana Pacers, and Aitch recalled wanting to be like him.“My dad said to me, ‘When you’re ready to learn how to play basketball, I’ll teach you,’” Aitch said. “So around ages 10, 11, 12, I said, ‘Yeah, I’m ready.’ That’s when he started to teach me how to play, and I picked it up pretty quickly.”Aitch’s father passed away unexpectedly near the end of her sophomore year at MSU. Around that same time, she was also recovering from an ACL tear and dealing with a transition in the coaching staff.“There were a lot of changes that occurred while I was a student-athlete at Michigan State,” Aitch said. “There were some difficult times, but we had a great support system at Michigan State, and they were very understanding.”

After five years as a student-athlete, Aitch left MSU with a bachelor’s degree in advertising and design as well as a master’s degree in public relations. She left East Lansing for the cobblestone streets of Copenhagen, Denmark, where she played basketball professionally for one year.

It was during her time overseas that Aitch really fortified her other true passion — design. “I lived in downtown Copenhagen, which is like the fashion capital of Scandinavia,” Aitch said. “It was like a fairy tale.”Growing up, Aitch was taller than most girls (she topped out at 6’1”). Consequently, she always had a difficult time finding clothing that fit and complemented her body type.“When I was young, I thought, ‘This would be so much easier if I just designed my own line,’” she said. Her stay in Denmark allowed her to do just that. Aitch spent her free time sketching and learning about design. She had samples made at a local design house and laid the groundwork to start her own company, Lady Aitch.

At the same time that she was getting her new business going, she began toying with the idea for a foundation. Together with Dr. Jim Potchen and the Michigan State University Health Teams, Aitch developed the mission for The Aitch Foundation — to raise money for early detection of hidden cancers.“My dad did not pass away from cancer, but I have had six family members who are either warriors or have passed away from cancer,” Aitch explained. “I wanted to make it a cause that’s really going to change people. I wanted it to be something that made sense, something that would be powerful, something people would feel connected to. I wanted to help.”The Aitch Foundation holds the annual Hidden Key Fashion Show at Spartan Stadium, which enlists former student-athletes and community leaders as models. The first show, held just 20 days after Aitch’s return from Denmark, raised $10,000 and featured clothing designed specifically for her former teammates.

The Aitch Foundation also sponsors advocacy days. These events provide opportunities for people to enroll in health insurance, get routine physicals and receive cancer screenings. The goal is to help people learn more about their overall health.“It’s a two-tier fight, the way that I look at it,” Aitch said. “You have to have the research, but you also have to have an educated population.”

Since returning from that trip to Copenhagen, Aitch’s business and charitable work have grown. She designs custom suits for Lady Aitch and is transitioning her patterns for ready-to-wear. She is a designer-in-residence at The Runway, a fashion incubator in Lansing, Mich. She also started another company, Our Own, which produces high-performance undershirts primarily for people in public-service occupations such as police officers and hospital workers.

Her fashion show is in its fourth year, and her foundation now includes a youth-mentoring program. Aitch’s hope for the future is to hire more staff, get greater public engagement and help more people overall.“I aspire to make my company a platform for people to come in and engage in their passions,” Aitch said. “The more people we can touch, the more people we can help. That’s what I’m looking for within my companies.”

– See more at: http://btn.com/2014/11/06/btn-livebig-from-fashion-to-philanthropy-msus-aitch-scores-big/#sthash.owcbyQA0.dpuf

Contact Lauren-

Email: laurenaitch@gmail.com

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Monday Mentor Minutes- Richard Stankiewicz

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Spartan Richard Stankiewicz discusses both his role as an IT executive and how he has seen the field change over time.

Richard is currently working as a Senior Manager for the State of Michigan with an IT focus, spending a lot of his time conversing about IT projects with customers both at the executive and business level. More specifically, he is representing three state agencies on the implementation of the new statewide financial system, along with working on two other large projects.

When Richard began his career, after receiving a computer science degree from Saginaw Valley State, he says the IT field did not exist. Professionals in the IT field were required to jump in and find solutions, unlike today where people have specific roles and responsibilities. Additionally, he mentions how the field has become more accessible through the internet and use of mobile devices as well as through specialized University programs. Richard also received a degree in Parks and Administration from Michigan State and is working towards earning an MBA from Texas State University.

For those of you who are thinking about going into the I.T. field, Richard offers some great advice you may not have already thought about. For example, before entering the field, individuals should know what sector of business they want to be in, with options ranging from healthcare to business management. He also says in order to be successful in IT, professionals require flexibility and communication skills. Most importantly though, Richard says it is imperative to find a mentor early and utilize him/her often so as to offer sound guidance and advice.

Contact Richard-

Email: StankiewiczR@michigan.gov

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Monday Mentor Minutes-Christopher Sell

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Spartan Chris Sell discusses his roles as a career educator, talent coordinator, and business developer.

Christopher Sell is a career educator, project manager, fundraiser, and business developer. At his core, he’s passionate about creating community and connecting people to opportunity. As a two-time college graduate with over six years of work experience in higher education, he’s equally committed to leveraging relationships with industry, alumni, and college students to retain and attract talent in the state and contribute to Michigan’s revitalization.

In his current role at Michigan State University, Chris serves as the Director of Alumni and Entrepreneur Engagement, where he leads efforts to build advocacy and support for the entrepreneurship ecosystem and student entrepreneurs at the University. Previously, Chris worked in career services roles at two different universities. In the past, he has applied his passion for workforce development and Michigan’s economic renaissance in several professional organizations, including Michigan’s Employer Educator Partnership (MEEP) and the Michigan Career Educator & Employer Alliance (MCEEA), for which he recently completed his 3-year term as President.

Chris is very involved in the local community as a #lovelansing enthusiast. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Impression 5 Science Center – the premier science center for children and families in the region – and is an active member of the Friends of the Lansing River Trail non-profit organization. Additionally, Chris is the Founder and Executive Director of Lansing 5:01, a new non-profit startup aimed at attracting and retaining talent in the Lansing community by offering dynamic and interactive events to college students and young professioanals.

A graduate of Western Michigan University (BA) and Michigan State University (MA), Chris has maintained a strong desire for continuous learning and leadership development. He is a graduate of the 2012 WMU Academic Leadership Academy, and a recent graduate of the inaugural 2015-16 Leadership Lansing program coordinated by the regional chamber of commerce. He also serves on the External Advisory Board of Directors for the WMU School of Communication.

Chris lives in Lansing with his wife, daughter, and black Labrador named Izzo, who they adopted from the Capital Area Humane Society. Outside of work, you can find Chris watching MSU sports or exploring the great outdoors in Pure Michigan on camping trips, backpacking expeditions, and endurance running races.

Contact Chris-

Email: sellchri@msu.edu

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