Why I Give: Kirk Philipich
Associate Professor of Accounting Kirk Philipich is not an obvious person to have started a scholarship for student-athletes.
In fact, ask him about how he came to create the Sportsmanship, Leadership and Academic Achievement Models (SLAAM) scholarship, and he’ll start with a surprising confession: He’s not into big-time sports these days. “I can’t deny I was a nut about any and all of it,” he says, smiling. “But I got to be about 40, and I realized I could probably be doing a little more with my time.”
Philipich has, however, recently found his way back to the sports universe, though his fandom is coming from a different place. It all began for him a few years ago when he started attending UM-Dearborn softball games. Initially, it was to show support for a student-athlete in one of his classes. But it soon led to a sort of awakening. “Many of the UM-Dearborn student-athletes were working hard in and out of the classroom, finding time to raise money to fund their sport, and working part-time jobs to pay their bills — without the typical motivations ‘big-time’ college athletes receive, like big scholarships and bleachers full of fans.”
Soon after, Philipich became an (admittedly loud) supporter of several UM-Dearborn teams. He now attends between 50 and 100 events per year, and has even been known to travel for away games in far-off states. And the scholarship he started, SLAAM, is awarded annually to two student-athletes who demonstrate the scholarship’s namesake qualities.
“I’m not about the sport, I’m about our student-athletes,” Philipich says. “The self-motivation, the work ethic — my colleagues and I love having student-athletes in our classes. They are driven to excel at their sport and their studies. That’s the kind of character-building that deserves both encouragement and investment, which our student-athletes repay to me many times over with their respect and appreciation.”