October Alumni of the Month:
Year of Graduation and Concentration:
1980, M.B.A. in Finance
Staff consultant with Accenture (then Andersen Consulting)
Founder and managing member of the early stage technology fund, Baroda Ventures, LLC
Advice to current UM students:
My advice to students is simple: make a difference. Make a difference in your own life, in the lives of your friends and family, and in the world. Find what you love to do. Believe in a cause and make it your passion. Find your passion, and make it your career. I encourage everyone to be a philanthropist. Philanthropy isn’t about giving money. It’s about sharing your passion with others and making your world a better place. If you don’t have money, give your time. If you don’t have time, give your voice. Get personally involved with the causes with which you identify so that you can experience service first-hand. Our futures are shaped not only by what we know, but what we do with that knowledge and how we help people. With so much at stake at the federal and local level, especially in the LGBT community, it’s encouraging to see that Michigan continues to graduate the best and the brightest. Every year, more passionate people who want to make a difference join our alumni ranks, and it’s because of organizations like the Spectrum Center that they do so. We are richer as a society for the Spectrum Center in Student Life to inspire and empower the next generation of LGBT writers, thinkers, activists and leaders. You help us all play a part.
Biggest challenge you have faced in the workforce:
Many LGBT employees face discrimination and harassment at work. In many states, a person can even be fired for being gay. We need to fight to change these laws. Everyone has their own personal journey. Being 'out' at work allowed me to thrive. It increased my productivity and the quality of my life overall. I did not have to spend time worrying about hiding who I was and could focus on my work. I was happier. The more diverse we are as a society, the more creative and productive we can be. My hope is that future generations can enjoy the same kind of fulfillment I did in the workplace.
Why voting matters:
Voting is the cornerstone of democracy and allows your voice to be heard in the public arena. The ballot creates a contract between the voter and candidate—a contract that essentially states, “I vote for you and you go represent my interests.” If the candidate, once elected, does not honor the contract, the voter can replace him or her, and the process starts again. Voting gives you power, plain and simple.
Unfortunately, this message is often lost on young people, especially college students, who often stay at home on Election Day. By changing this trend, you can change this country’s political landscape. There are more than 75 million Generation Y’ers (those born in the 80s and 90s) in America and nearly 20 million of them are college students. If only half of that number voted, they could determine the outcome of local, state and national elections. The college vote is an important voting bloc. Mobilized, it represents a powerful political force. Higher turnout gives you more influence, and vice versa. In the end, 18-25 year olds are the future leaders of this country, and public policy is in your hands. The only way to change the system is to enter the fray: by voting, giving your time to campaigns, or even running for office yourself. Always play a part!
If you have any questions for David Bohnett, he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.