Mark Vroman, MBA ’12, is a former firefighter, student, and professor teaching a unique population of students. He uses the skills he has learned in the classroom and on the job to help the next generation of business professionals.
Vroman studied fire science at Lansing Community College and was a firefighter in Meridian Township for 15 years before deciding to go back to school. He thought hard about which school he wanted to attend and eventually decided on Davenport’s Global Campus.
“When I decided to pursue my MBA, I assessed half a dozen programs both within the state and throughout the country,” said Vroman. “I chose Davenport based on reputation, business excellence, and professors with real-world experience and scholarly achievements. Everything just kept coming back to Davenport.”
In 2012, Vroman was promoted to captain, which he believes is due to his personal and professional growth during his time at Davenport. Then, in 2014, right as he was wrapping up his five-year academic career at Davenport, he was promoted to battalion chief.
“I really credit my graduate studies and MBA at Davenport for setting me on a path for professional success,” said Vroman.
After serving as battalion chief for eight-and-a-half years, the longest a battalion chief has served Meridian Township, he felt called to use the knowledge he gleaned from his Davenport classes to help others.
Vroman decided to start what he calls his ‘encore career,’ teaching undergraduate students at Siena Heights University. He started as a full-time assistant professor while he was in the process of retiring from the fire services. Eventually, in August 2022, he became a full-time professor.
“The strategic management courses towards the end of my initial MBA from Davenport were very memorable because of how challenging they were,” said Vroman. I can remember so many of the key takeaways. Fast-forward 12 years, and I am teaching strategic management at the undergraduate level,” he said.
In his current role, Vroman has taken on additional responsibility at Siena Heights as the lead faculty member and program coordinator of the Rising Education Program (REP), which started in 2022. The program works in conjunction with the Second Chance Pell Grant Program and the Michigan Department of Corrections to allow incarcerated individuals to get a post-secondary degree. Students first attend Jackson College to get their associate’s degree in general business and can continue their education to receive a Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA) from Siena Heights University.
“I love working with adult learners and that population,” said Vroman. They are highly motivated and very engaged. They seek to make a difference and better their lives as returning citizens. ”
Vroman teaches the REP classes in person and has had to get creative with the materials he uses because of restrictions on what he can and can’t bring into the correctional facilities. As a result, he has gone back to the basics, using pencil and paper, which is not seen often in traditional university classes.
“Because these students are so invested, I challenge myself to deliver the best educational experience for every class,” said Vroman. “They don’t take a night off, so I don’t take a night off. What I try to challenge myself to do with each class is to create a wonderful learning experience that is valuable to them professionally and academically and create a learning community with our students,” he said.
Vroman’s professional career has changed paths over the years. However, he is still able to find examples every day where he uses his Davenport education and experience as a leader in the fire department. Working on budgets and finances and finding ways to enhance his critical thinking and problem-solving skills are just a few examples.
“Maybe there is a reason why I have been forced to teach without all the technology at this point,” Vroman said. “It forces me to be innovative and creative in the classroom, and I enjoy working with the students.”
Vroman looks forward to finishing his Ph.D. in Global Leadership from Indiana Tech and spending more time with his family and friends. He is also excited that 14 students in the REP are graduating at the end of the semester and are approaching reentry as citizens.
His best advice for students is, “Nothing beats preparation. There is that old adage that ‘luck is when preparation meets opportunity.’ “In essence, there is no luck,” he said. “You create your own luck through lots of hard work and lots of preparation.”