When Brad Haverkamp '95 graduated from Calvin more than a decade ago, getting involved as an alumnus “wasn't even on his radar screen.”
“Like most students, I thought you went to college for four or five years and then you were done with it,” he said. “I didn't realize that you were a part of the community forever if you choose to be.”
That's an aspect of Calvin that Haverkamp discovered soon after graduating and one that he has come to appreciate more now. “The place keeps giving to you,” he said. “If you stay engaged, it can be a lifelong thing.”
Haverkamp's engagement began shortly after graduating when he became involved with the Grand Rapids alumni chapter. He moved into a leadership role with the chapter and in 2003 became a member of the Calvin Alumni Association board. He was president of the board in 2005–2006.
Because of his positive experience in connecting with the college, Haverkamp wanted to invite others to share in his enthusiasm. “I was so inspired and energized by being a part of the college community again,” he said.
As a member of the Grand Rapids business community, Haverkamp, senior vice president at Chase Bank, felt like business alumni weren't connected enough to the college. “They weren't connected to each other or the college,” he said. “They didn't have enough swagger from their affiliation with Calvin.”
After a meeting with career development director Glenn Triezenberg and alumni director Mike Van Denend, Haverkamp came away with three goals: to reconnect people with the school, to connect people with each other, to inspire people in their Christian calling. From these goals, MBA (Meeting Business Alumni)@Calvin was formed.
The group of young alumni, which now includes bankers, lawyers, accountants, business owners and engineers, meets regularly to network and to hear from other area businesspeople about their goals and challenges.
“At the first event [which featured Calvin alumna Michelle VanDyke, president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank, Western Michigan], I was so worried about getting good attendance,” Haverkamp said. “It was really unbelievable to see the room packed with people. As I was looking over everyone in attendance, I saw influential, connected and inspired people that could really have a meaningful impact on so many others.”
Since the first event in 2005, MBA@Calvin has grown, and events regularly draw more than 100 people.
“Brad is a visionary and dedicated Calvin alumnus who not only develops new ideas for alumni programming, but also works hard to implement the ideas himself, giving of his personal free time to improve the college,” Triezenberg said. “Brad served on the front lines of MBA@Calvin for two years, recruiting speakers and tapping his large network of friends and colleagues to draw attendees to these events. His leadership for this group is just one of the many ways he has demonstrated his love for Calvin College.”
Haverkamp views each volunteer experience as an opportunity.
“I'm really passionate about putting my faith into practice,” he said. “I think the best businesspeople are those who are good at connecting with others. I think that is pretty consistent with what we're called to do as Christians. Business is a wonderful Christian calling, and in it you have the opportunity to be an example and encouragement to many others.”
Since the MBA@Calvin initiative, Haverkamp has also become involved with the Campaign for Calvin College as a member of the campaign steering committee.
“Brad's stature as an alumni leader seems to grow with each new project he champions,” Van Denend said. “It is hard to think of a more enthusiastic ambassador for the college. He always has the college's best interests at heart, and he acts decisively to make good things happen for Calvin.
“It will be exciting to see where his involvement will lead next. I'm sure he'll continue a close Calvin relationship, and he'll either give us fresh wisdom on a current program or contact us with another innovative way for Calvin to connect with alumni and friends.”
His enthusiasm is a natural development from his experiences, Haverkamp said.
“When I'm talking to potential students and their parents about Calvin, I tell them that my four years here was an incredible experience—unmatched—but I also tell them that the really amazing thing is that once you are part of it you can continue to learn and grow and be inspired,” he said. “Being a part of this great community is a lifelong deal.”
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