In early May, 28 Kalamazoo College students had the opportunity to share a meal on campus with eight professionals who have at least two things in common—the K-Plan and careers at the Stryker Corporation, a Kalamazoo-based Fortune 500 medical technologies firm.
The alumni returned to campus at the invitation of the Center for Career and Professional Development to meet with students who could learn about career paths at Stryker and the relevance of the K-Plan to those paths. At least 15 current Stryker employees got their undergraduate degrees at K, and both institutions are interested in strengthening the talent pipeline between the two.
The event began with a welcome by S. Si Johnson ’78, the retired group president of Stryker MedSurg Group and a current member of the College’s board of trustees. Johnson shared the four core values of Stryker—integrity, accountability, people, and performance—and reflected on how the critical thinking and problem solving skills inherent in a K education are great preparation for a career at Stryker.
After students and alumni enjoyed informal networking conversations over dinner, James N. Heath ’78, the retired president of Stryker Instruments and a member of K’s board of trustees, moderated an alumni panel that included Randy Rzeznik ’08, director of customer excellence, Neuro, Spine, ENT and Navigation; Bryce Pearson ’15, finance representative; Kevin Packard ’05, clinical marketing manager, Neuro, Spine, ENT and Navigation; and Michael Weslosky ’02, staff scientist.
Panelists reflected on their trajectories from K to Stryker and talked about the qualities of the company they find most attractive. The panelists’ K majors were varied—chemistry, economics, biology, and business—and each panelist cited the value of the work ethic instilled by the K-Plan and the 10-week term. They also stressed the importance of persistence in the pursuit of employment. Pearson, for example, shared the effort and time that was required before he secured a position at Stryker.
Heath also invited one of the students in attendance, junior Alex White, to describe the extensive process he’d gone through to secure an internship with Stryker for the upcoming summer.
Other alumni attending the event included Legal Counsel Christopher DiVirgilio ’04 and Senior IS Business Analyst Russ Hankey ’96.
Students and alumni agreed that the evening was a success and excellent preparation for the next step in the K/Stryker relationship: a half-day immersion K-Trek for selected students to the company’s headquarters in the fall.
Text and photo by Joan Hawxhurst