Alumni Buzz

There are few graduates of Robert Morris University who were as universally well-liked as Jesper Carlston. A Swedish citizen, Carlston came to the States to seek his fortune in ice hockey, and his travels led him to Robert Morris. While majoring in Business Management, Jesper was a key part of the Gold Hockey team, one of their best defensemen and a team captain. "Jesper was respected by, and popular with, his teammates," said head coach Chico Adrahtas. "He was always a team-first guy, and not coincidentally, one of the most improved players on the team over the three years I coached him."
After graduating in 2011, Carlston was hired by IBM, where he became the Lead Development Representative of Inside Sales and works in the Dublin, Ireland office. He looks back on his time at RMU fondly.

"I had an amazing ride with the RMU hockey team. Being able to play the sport you love at an elite level with professional coaching and leadership is an amazing experience that you will carry with you the rest of your life. On top of this, you get all of the teammates and their personalities and backgrounds that gives the experience another dimension. Together, we got to fight through adversity but also experience the sweet taste of success. Being able to go to "war" with 25 guys every weekend knowing we all are willing to do what it takes to reach our goal, that is truly something special.

"That experience translates directly to the work world. The feeling of bringing in a new customer and, together with IBM experts and management, being able to walk through the sales cycle and see the deal close is an amazing feeling. I can compare this with what it's like to score a goal or make a big open ice hit.

"Being a student-athlete at Robert Morris taught me many important lessons that I have great use for in my current profession. It taught me the importance of planning, structure, concentration, and focus. I also learned that you do not get anything free in life; with hard work comes success. As a Swedish guy from a city with 300,000 people, it was an amazing life experience to get to live in a city like Chicago for four years and take part in everything this great city has to offer. From an academic point of view, I really valued the expertise the real business experience my professors were able to share with me. That expertise felt even more personal and connected because of the smaller class sizes and all of the presentations that they made and the projects we participated in. Coach Adrahtas used to say we should be the best we can be, and this is something I try to keep in the back of my head at all times, no matter what kind of curve ball life throws at me."

"There are some student-athletes whom you worry for after their days on the playing field are over," said Adrahtas. "Jesper was never one of those. I am not surprised in the least that he's found success, and he's the best example of what can happen when a student maximizes his experience at Robert Morris."


One of the most familiar faces at RMU Gold hockey games is that of alum Ryan Behnke. A 2008 graduate of RMU, Behnke has continued to play the sport that he loves while crafting a successful career in the business world. An Executive Account Manager at FSG Inc., Behnke has put his degree in Business to good use.

"I've been able to implement the array of knowledge that I collected from the business classes at RMU directly into my work," said Behnke. "On a daily basis, questions and situations arise and I have solutions at my finger tips thanks to what I learned at RMU. Being an assistant captain on the Gold hockey team played a big role for me being able to be comfortable with the teamwork and leadership skills that are necessary for success in the workplace.

"Playing hockey for the school was a great experience. It was so nice to be an active part of the University and be involved. I was able to make, keep and grow great relationships with my teammates and with other students, and now network with them professionally.

"Hockey is fast, its about adjusting to situations on the fly, and in work, I love the constant growth and innovation within the industry, the continual learning process. Being a student-athlete at RMU prepared me very well for this."

"It's very gratifying to see the alumni coming back to watch the current team play," said Director of Hockey Operations Tom Wendlandt. "There's a life-long connection from the investment they made as student-athletes, and it positively impacts those currently in the program as well. They see our alum succeeding in the real world, and get a feel for how valuable their experience at RMU truly is."


Michael Sugden was an essential part of the RMU Gold hockey team success story. Starting his time with the school at our Springfield campus, after a year he transferred closer to his home in Wisconsin and began attending the Chicago campus. Athletically, the first part of his sophomore year was spent on the Maroon team, but he got the call to play for Gold and never looked back. Once on the Division I team, he more than played; he was an essential part of the power play and penalty kill, and along with his backline partner Ryan McGaughy, drew the assignment of playing against the opponent's best line. Sugden was a huge part of RMU's move from being ranked in the 20's in the ACHA Coaches' Poll, to becoming a team that was a legitimate Top 10 program, and all the while was a Dean's List student every quarter during his time here. His experience on the ice was made even more special, as his parents found a way to be at nearly every game he played, be those locations Minot, North Dakota or the University of Delaware and every rink in between.

The native of the Milwaukee area graduated from RMU in 2012 with his degree in Accounting, and currently serves as the Staff Accountant for Kasdorf, Lewis and Swietlick SC.

"The best part of my job is being able to help the firm meet and exceed our goals," said Sugden. "The position I am in puts a lot of weight on my shoulders, and I do enjoy that pressure. Having a private office is a great perk as well; I have a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the office.

"The hockey experience at RMU was awesome. I learned a lot about time management and how to balance school and hockey. Today, I use that time management a lot when dealing with projects and deadlines at my job. The friendships I gained while playing at RMU are invaluable and something that I am very grateful for. Looking back on it all, the experience was top notch and help me immensely.

"The academic and life experiences were great. Living in downtown Chicago with hockey teammates who now are close friends was awesome. It is an experience I wish I could have again. Taking the train to and from class while getting to experience the downtown commute is something that helped me a lot when I began my job. Academically, the learning environment at RMU prepared me a lot for the real world. Transitioning from the classroom to an office environment was very easy and I credit RMU with that."

"If their were a prototypical student-athlete, Michael Sugden would be the mold you'd want," said Gold team head coach Chico Adrahtas. "He was totally dedicated to being the best at whatever endeavor he was a part of. He was a player who was slight of build, yet he took on and bested forwards who outweighed him by 20 and 30 pounds through a combination of guile and determination. His contribution to the school and the hockey team is immeasurable."


Smith Senior Living and the continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) it sponsors have more than a handful of full-time employees who started as interns in recent years. Among the best and brightest in this group is Miguel Calendas, who graduated from Robert Morris College in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. While working toward his degree, Calendas completed an internship at Smith Village in Chicago’s South Side Beverly neighborhood.

In 2012 Calendas was promoted to serve as human resources assistant at Smith Crossing, a Smith Senior Living-sponsored CCRC located in Orland Park. While 26-year-old Calendas employs a playful sense of humor and sunny attitude, he takes his job seriously and works hard to discern the sincerity of job applicants.


Alejandro Perez, Alumnus of Robert Morris University from the Information Systems bachelor degree program, hosted his first Chi4n6 event in the Culinary Arts dining room. The event was titled: “Memory Forensics Demystified” presented by Joe Riggins from HBGary.
Alejandro Perez is an Associate at a "Big 4" consulting firm. With five plus years as a Forensic Technology team member, Alejandro accumulated in-depth technological experience and a strong background in; eDiscovery, forensic data collection, preservation, investigations, and electronic data recovery. Alejandro specializes in providing services for law firms and corporate clients in the areas of digital evidence recovery, forensic analysis, evidence handing and eDiscovery. His experience in forensic analysis include but not limited to; fraud, divorce, intellectual property theft, threat investigations, theft, piracy and internal investigations. Alejandro has worked on 100+ forensic cases involving civil and criminal matters related to anti-trust and trade secret investigations with various Chicago area law firms and corporations. These civil and criminal matters include performing the following duties with the up most due diligence; analysis, litigation support, and eDiscovery services involving large volumes of email and other electronic documents. 

RMU welcomed back some of its alumni for the annual Culinary Symposium. Some attendees included Mark Wrocznski, Jon Sherman, Lauren Marquez, Tommy Zarlenga, Daniel Ehle, Marcus Wiley, and Nathan Johnson. We're proud of you!

Week one means the beginning of the quarter and RMU alumni who are students in the Morris Graduate School of Management stopped off in the grad offices this week for a little meet and greet and eat before heading off to class. Dr. Kayed Akkawi, dean of MGSM; Fernando Villeda, associate dean of MGSM; Liz Wheeler, dean of Graduate Success and Betty O'Leary, director of Corporate Relations were on hand to welcome the students back. Liz Wheeler invited alumni to become more involved in RMU activities, such as speaking to undergraduates or serving on advisory boards. Carlos Vale and Kristen Thinnes, graduate advisors, were also available to talk with students. Good luck in Summer 1 to all RMU students!

Zachary Oyler - RMU BBA, MBA graduate; a supervisor at Caterpillar (promoted twice in the last couple of years). The best part of his story is that he is now a member of the RMU adjunct faculty in the School of Business, teaching his first management course this quarter (summer 1) at the Peoria campus. Zach's personal email address is:

Jill Welch - RMU BBA graduate; employed at Caterpillar and recently earned a very nice promotion. Here is the email announcement sent by her supervisor - notice it mentions that she is an RMU grad.

"I would like to take this opportunity to inform everyone that effective July 1, 2013 Jill Welch has accepted the promotion to Contract Analysis for the truck team. This move was generated by the earlier announcement of Connie Pagan's retirement on July 1st. Jill has proven to be a valuable asset and quick learner to D&FP. Over the past year she has learned the dealer business, GSA, and EXPORT business for CDP in the UK. In addition, she has worked OEM accounts such as GDLS and Force Protection (via Blanchard). Jill came to D&FP after nearly 5 years at CAT in various support roles. On the education front, Jill is a graduate of Robert Morris University with a BDG in Business Administration, and during her time at D&FP has completed the online DAU courses for doing business with the Defense Segment.
I am very pleased to have Jill on the team. Please join me in congratulating Jill for a job well done and best wishes on the new challenges that lay ahead. A backfill for the open Account Coordinator position is pending, announcement to be made later."

Don Banks
Marketing & Contracts Mgr


Karen Braswell, class of 2005, is a fitness specialist and exercise physiologist who prides herself in keeping meticulous records, but she’s not counting weight loss, muscle gain or high levels of endurance. The records Karen keeps more indicate progress with walking speed, flexibility and balance. That’s because she’s responsible for fitness training for older adults who live at Smith Crossing, a continuing care retirement community in Orland Park, Ill. Many residents exercise to enhance their quality of life but others hope to accelerate recovery after a health challenge.

A Feb 2013 grad of the nursing program Gladys Perez, stopped by RMU to tell us she had just taken the NCLEX-RN exam. She was very animated and stepped right into a class of freshman to tell them about all the hard work she had done and how it was all worth it. She told them to study hard and really concentrate on the "multiple multiple" questions as the NCLEX-RN was loaded with them and that faculty at RMU was great and really helped her get ready for this test. Gladys e-mailed us on Friday morning---she passed the NCLEX-RN exam and is now hunting for a nursing job! She is the first of her cohort to test/pass the test....success!

RMU student Monja Dereta organized a book club meeting recently at the Chicago Campus. The topic covered the historic event known as the October 1917 Revolution in Russia was one of the turning points of the World’s history in 20th century. 

RMU Alumni wrote a book about finding the fidden gems in the Italian French Riviera titled A Guide to the Italian French Riviera. La riviera da Viareggio alla Costa Azzurra. The book can be ordered here.


Alumni Updates

Cheyenne Brown
BA grad, 2004
Patient Service Coordinator University of Chicago Hospital

Hal Prohaska
former RMU basketball player, Orland Park campus, BA grad, 2002
Vice President Branch Manager for PNC Bank

Selenea Hughes
MBA graduate, 2008
Senior Financial Analyst, City Colleges of Chicago

Salvador Bolanos
Orland Park Graphic Design Graduate, 2010
Creative Art Director, Pivitol 5, Releasing an app named Dudface


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Robert Morris University Illinois is a private, not-for-profit associate, baccalaureate, and master's degree-granting institution, accredited by the Higher learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60604, 312.263.0456). Robert Morris serves over 7000 students interested in getting an education that meets the demands of today's business, graphic arts, health care, culinary and technical world at its main campus in Chicago as well as at locations in Arlington Heights, DuPage, Elgin, Orland Park, Bensenville, Schaumburg, Springfield, Peoria and Lake County.