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Updated 3:00 PM May 2, 2006




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Class of '06: From Butterfingers to banking

Business always has been in senior Matt Kolarik's blood.
Matt Kolarik presents the 2005 BBA Teaching Excellence Award during last year's Stephen M. Ross School of Business commencement ceremony. (Photo courtesy Matt Kolarik)

Growing up in Denmark, Wis., Kolarik bought candy at Sam's Club and then sold it to classmates out of his middle school locker. The pittance helped supplement his $35 a month allowance.

"When I was growing up I always liked business," he says. "I knew I wanted to do business and this has been my direction."

His love for the field brought Kolarik to Ann Arbor, sight unseen. Kolarik, who will graduate this week with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree, did not visit U-M until orientation.

Fresh off the farm—a dairy farm in northern Wisconsin—Kolarik wanted to experience life outside of his native state.

"My [high school graduating] class only had 144 people in it; going to a [single U-M] classroom with 144 people, I was overwhelmed in the beginning," he says. "It was tough, but now I know Michigan was the perfect place for me."

When Kolarik came to the University he was part of a crew team that competed in the national championships his first year. He soon left rowing behind and became involved in the business school. He has been a Ross pre-business counselor, helping potential business students, and a student representative on the Senate Assembly Government Relations Advisory Committee.

"The opportunities were there," says Kolarik, who counts his experience as vice president of BBA affairs for the Student Government Association among his treasured extracurricular activities. "I started learning things about the community and Ann Arbor. Then I got involved in the business school quite heavily."

Kolarik says group projects have been an important part of his academic training. He thinks back to his first group project in marketing class: "It was tough. We were all sitting around trying to write one paper," he says. "Looking at my last group paper, it was so much easier. You divide the responsibilities and you have more of a leadership role.

"Learning from one another is really what you get out of it," he adds. "Not only do you get the interpersonal contact, but you also get the academic side. I am glad I went to business school here because I found my niche."

After experiencing much of what the business school has to offer, Kolarik says he plans to spend a few months back on the farm before beginning a mid-corporate banking position at JPMorgan Chase in Chicago Aug. 1.

While final projects have been completed, including one at 6 a.m. the day of the interview for this story, Kolarik says he has one more thing he would like to do before departing Ann Arbor.

"Every time I drive down Packard I see Blimpie Burger, and I feel like it has been there forever and I have to go there," he says.

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