Alumni Spotlights

Andrew T. Illig

Andrew Illig

 Andrew T. Illig, 2012 Miami graduate (major Sociology; minor Criminology), 2015 graduate of Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law, currently an attorney with Reminger Co., L.P.A. in Cleveland.

You graduated in 2012 with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Criminology. Can you describe what you've been doing since then?

Sometimes 2012 feels like yesterday, sometimes it feels like another lifetime. I've moved away. I've moved home. I've traveled a bit. I've been hired, fired, and hired elsewhere. After graduating, I moved right on to law school before taking the bar exam and starting my career in Cleveland, Ohio. Currently, I work at Reminger Co., L.P.A.,  a law firm in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, and my practice focuses on civil litigation defense, and particularly on the areas of professional liability, securities litigation, and regulatory enforcement defense. More importantly, my fiancée and I finalizing plans for our upcoming wedding in December 2019. We'll have to forgive her for being a Xavier graduate, but I'm looking forward to indoctrinating her with all things Miami for years to come.

What interested you about a career in the legal field? What is your day-to-day work-life like?

The same things that drew me to Sociology drew me to a career in law. I enjoy diving into a problem, learning about everything potentially influencing the outcome, and developing a creative solution. While there are similarities across all cases, the solutions to each case are unique. Working in litigation involves quite a bit of time in the office researching, writing, and gugling the obligations imposed on the many cases we each have on our desk. Whether I'm spending the day in the office or in the courtroom, however, I am constantly interacting with other people, advocating on behalf of my clients, and working to find creative solutions to our client's problems.

How does the discipline of Sociology resonate with you today?

Believe it or not, I do not remember every class I took at Miami. One common thread that weaved its way through each Sociology class, however, was the constant challenge by the professors to dig deeper, to ask "Why." Regardless of the subject matter, we were constantly trying to understand "why" - such as what motivated certain "deviant" behavior or why a certain behavior was even considered "deviant" at all. We all take things for granted and this was not always a skill that came naturally to me. Over time, asking "why" became instinctual and continues to benefit me on a daily basis - Did my client harm another person? Did any other person contribute to the alleged harm? Where can I find evidence to test or verify the story my client is telling me?

I may not understand or agree with a certain perspective, but I always try to keep an open mind and remember to ask "why."

You were a varsity football payer (walk-on) at Miami. How did that experience shape your career trajectory?

Let me start by saying I am biased and a big proponent of sports because they provide for physical, mental, and emotional learning and growth. For me, sports were everything from a teaching tool to a coping mechanism. Playing football at Miami was the culmination of a lot of hard work (and luck). Now, looking back, it's crazy to think that my sports "career" ended as a college kid. Sports, and football in particular, taught me a lot about myself and how to interact with others. Again, I'm biased, but I think football is the ultimate team game - 11 guys with specific and unique job responsibilities working together each play for a common goal. That concept of "team" is something I don't think I'll ever escape because there are very few things in life that I've been able to accomplish completely on my own.

I think because of this, the topic of sports has come up in every interview and often times it was the first question asked. From my perspective, most people can relate to sports in one way or another and it's an easy icebreaker to get any conversation rolling. More than that though, and again I'm biased here, I think people understand that it takes a different, special, or unique (whatever adjective you want to use) mental and physical mindset to be able to train and compete at a high level while also performing at a high level in the classroom. Whether with sports or any other activity, the ability to manage multiple stressors and prioritize daily obligations is something that goes beyond the playing field. 

What do you miss most about Miami?

Everything I needed was in one place. Miami has so much to offer and there was so much variety available on (or near) campus. It sounds simple, but all those opportunities are just a short walk away. 

What one piece of advice would you share with our current SOC students?

Find an activity, group, hobby, job, etc. outside the classroom and stay busy. Admittedly, Oxford, Ohio is a small town and can be an adjustment for some students. With just a little effort, though, anyone can easily find something that suits their personality. In the classroom, stay open and stay engaged, especially as you progress through your upper level classes. Not every class will be a favorite, but lessons can be learned from each. 

 

Anthony Williams

Anthony Williams

Anthony Williams earned a BA in Psychology with a minor in Gerontology from Miami in 2010. Since then, he has earned a Masters of Gerontological Study (MGS) from Miami University and a Masters of Business Administration from Xavier University. He is currently a Health Services Administrator at Episcopal Retirement Services in Cincinnati.

You graduated with a BA in 2010, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Gerontology. What inspired you to pair these two fields of study?

Great question! Early on in my time at Miami, I didn't really have a clear idea of what I wanted to study. Through the Miami Plan requirements, I had the opportunity to explore what interested me most. I had a feeling I wanted to do something health related, but didn't know quite what. I recall taking a few psychology courses and finding the insights gained into human motivation, thought processes, etc. intriguing and, at that point, decided to pursue it as a major. The minor in gerontology came along the same way. In order to fulfill a Miami Plan requirement, I signed up for the Introduction to Aging course. I found the content fascinating and the course opened my eyes to the numerous career opportunities in gerontology. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up taking multiple other courses on the topic and making the decision to declare it as a minor.

You went on to complete masters degrees in both gerontological studies and in business administration. What made you interested in pursuing a career in gerontology?

There were two driving factors that led me down a career path in aging. The first was my upbringing. My great grandparents were heavily involved in my life growing up. I think that being around them so much early on helps me to easily connect with older adults today. A career serving older adults just feels so natural to me! The second was my coursework at Miami. In reality, without having taken that Introduction to Aging course, a career path in the field of aging likely wouldn't have been on my radar!

How does the discipline of gerontology continue to resonate with you today?

It has become very clear to me that knowledge of the field of gerontology has great value for everyone. We are an aging nation and that has so many implications for our society - from public policy to the way businesses of nearly every type operate. as the Health Services Administrator for a premier retirement community in the Cincinnati area, I find myself embedded in learnings from my undergraduate and graduate studies in gerontology each day. I have had the opportunity to meet and service some amazing people in my role and the skills that my gerontology coursework gave me to do this have been invaluable. 

What do you miss most about your Miami experience?

As the motto goes, "To think that in such a place, I led such a life." I'm not quite sure that I could pinpoint just one thing! The experience was great. Miami has top notch faculty who care about your success and it is one of the most beautiful campuses I've ever seen.

What advice would you share with our current gerontology students as they prepare to enter the labor force?

Network! The gerontology faculty and alumni have so many connections at both the state and national levels. When I was looking to do field training for my long-term care administrator license a little over seven years ago, Bob Applebaum connected me with the CEO of this great organization that I've had the opportunity to work for since that time.

Chris Rodriguez

Chris Rodriguez

Chris Rodriguez graduated from Miami in 2009 with a BA in Sociology. He is currently a Core Account Executive with Salesforce in Chicago.

You graduated in 2009 with a BA in Sociology. Can you describe what you've been doing since then?

I have been in some type of sales role since I graduated and it truly has been a great journey. I started off working for a start-up which was a wonderful experience. There I learned the importance of building your brand within an organization which allowed me to advance quickly. More, I received a great education on ho to grow and sustain an organization while being mentored by some great individuals. From there, I transitioned to some of the larger and better-known organizations in the technology space. While at IBM and most recently Salesforce, I've had the chance to meet some remarkable people and work next to some of the most brilliant minds in the world. All my stops over the last 10 years have allowed me to improve my business acumen, grow as a Sales Professional, meet some wonderful people and visit some great cities. 

What interested you about joining the corporate world? Can you describe your day-to-day work-life?

Being a former athlete...sales seemed like a natural field to explore. Like athletics, you're judged on performance, operate in a competitive space and each day presents a new challenge, which will include some failure. That said, it's learning from those failures that really allows you to grow and improve (like in sports). More importantly, you have to be open to feedback and constructive criticism or the corporate world can be a difficult space to exist in.

Most recently I've transitioned to more of a consultant role, so my travel has increased a bit, thus I find myself on a plane a lot more to be in front of clients. When I am not traveling, my day is usually jammed packed with meetings with colleagues and clients. Additionally, I am always reading something about our industry and/or technology. Things are forever changing in the technology space, so it requires daily attentiveness to stay advised on what's going on in the market.

How does the discipline of Sociology resonate with you today?

I still find myself conducting a ton of research to provide value and benefits to my clients. In most cases, I am having to communicate that value in a presentation or in writing. Within the discipline of Sociology, writing papers with supporting evidence was a must, and that practice still provides me value today. Moreover, much of what I do still requires me keeping up to date on societal patterns and culture of everyday life. In this digital age, my clients have to understand patterns to get ahead of certain curves by leveraging technology and Artificial Intelligence. If I can't communicate current vs. future state with them, I am doing them a disservice. 

You were a varsity athlete at Miami (baseball and football). How did that experience shape your career trajectory?

The experience was significant and maybe not the way you would think. I will be the first to admit that my full potential as an athlete was not realized during my time at Miami. I struggled a bit to overcome an injury, but much of it was my mentality at the time. In college athletics, talent can only get you so far. My experience and what I felt to be my shortcomings have been something I have always carried with me in my post-athletic career. Those who do put in that time and effort, pay attention to the details required, truly reap the benefits. 

Athletics teaches you about time management. Today, I still find myself getting up early to work out before heading to the office or airport. This mimics my time in Oxford, where we would have morning workouts starting at 5 or 5:30am and at the conclusion, I was hustling to eat breakfast and get to an 8am class. Also, there is the organization piece. Sports at Miami taught me how to be organized and stay on top of educational and sports activities. Today is no different, as I findmyself having to stay on top of client activities and company activities. If I am not organized, life can be difficult. Next, being a part of a team. Today, I lead a very good team to help consult our clients. Collaboration and communication are a big part of what we do and being a former athlete has made it easier to optimize those skills. If I simply try to do everything on my own, I fail and my clients may experience a setback that can be detrimental to their business.

After my time as an athlete at Miami, I did not want to experience what I felt was me "settling" again. Since starting in the workforce, I have strived to be the best version of me, focus on the details and not just go through things, but rather grow through them. The last 10 years have been filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but I can say that I have learned from each chapter.

What do you miss most about your Miami experience?

Oxford, Ohio will always have a special place in my heart. Simply, I miss the day to day life of being a student-athlete and being around teammates. As a student-athlete, you become extremely close with those on your team and the team does become your second family. To this day, I am still part of a text distribution list that has about 14 former teammates on it and there is some sort of communication almost every day. As you can imagine, the topics of conversations have changed over the last 10 years, but sports topics are still a mainstay. All in all, I miss putting on the uniform and competing on the field. It's time that I can't back, but I will always have the memories. It was truly an honor to attend and wear the uniform of Miami University. Love & Honor!

What advice would you share with our current SOC students as they prepare to enter the labor force?

Respect the process. The taste of success may not be immediate, but I promise that every single step counts. If you think you can skip steps or avoid them, that is the easiest way to fall down them. Also, don't be afraid of failure in life, it's a part of your growth and some of my greatest improvements and ideas have been after failing at something. If you can callus your mind to the idea that failing is a bad thing, you will experience significant growth faster. Continue to learn from your successes and failures and I promise you will be successful.

Have a reason. I think goals are great, but my reasons help add discipline and consistency to the way I approach my life and business. My two main reasons today are my family and my underperforming as I closed out my athletic career. In knowing your way/reasons, no task is too difficult, you're acting daily with a purpose and continuing to better yourself.