“What I’ve learned here will last a lifetime”

April 28, 2021

Soccer captain Chad Schmerheim juggled classes, work and the responsibilities that come with being as a student-athlete. The College of Business graduate says he's gained a full-time job offer, soccer teammates who have become life-long friends and a business education backed by a Michigan degree.

Graphic showing Chad Schmerheim, COB graduate and soccer captain
Graphic showing Chad Schmerheim, COB graduate and soccer captain
Graphic by Violet Dashi

UM-Dearborn’s soccer captain Chad Schmerheim has juggled much more than a black-and white-patterned ball during the past four years.

If you checked in with the College of Business Spring 2021 graduate during a past soccer season, his day may have looked like this: Around 6 a.m., he’d join a work call with Magna International colleagues in Germany. At 8:30 a.m., Schmerheim headed to practice. After soccer, he’d log back into work for a few hours. In the afternoon, you’d find him taking business and supply chain management courses. His evenings and nights — if there wasn’t a soccer match — were for group projects, meetings and homework.

“In terms of time management, accountability and determination, being a student-athlete creates progression towards mastering those attributes,” says Schmerheim, who concluded his collegiate soccer career earlier this month. “There are challenges, of course. You always want to push yourself to develop strong habits and create new opportunities for growth. It can be exhausting at times, but it’s important to keep going because there are also rewards related to your goals.”

Those rewards include a business education backed by a Michigan degree, soccer teammates who have become great friends, and a full-time job offer at Magna Exteriors. Schmerheim, who worked as an intern at Magna since his freshman year, received a fulltime job offer from the IT and Project Management team that he starts next week.

Schmerheim, as a team captain, typically highlights others before himself. When he realizes he’s sharing his post-graduation news, he stops mid-thought. “Oh man, I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m bragging.” But Schmerheim isn’t boasting; he’s just stating facts.

Typically seen on game days wearing his No. 5 jersey, the midfielder started 13 games as a freshman and progressed as a team leader during the past four years. As much as he’s enjoyed his time on the field, Schmerheim says that experience was a bonus — he initially chose campus for the business degree.

After doing research on which university had the best return on investment for the major he wanted (a tactic he credits to his mom, who has an HR business background), Schmerheim decided that UM-Dearborn was the right choice. “I was able to get the degree I wanted for a fraction of the cost of going somewhere else,” he says. “The professors I’ve had, like Operations Management Professor Young Ro, have been incredible too. I’ve learned so much, especially in my supply chain classes.”

He says he feels prepared for life after graduation and he’s ready for the next step — but he’ll miss his Dearborn Wolverine soccer team. He talks about the four-hour bus rides bonding with his soccer team on away game days. And the brotherly camaraderie that added excitement to wins and gave consolation with losses.

Schmerheim, who’s played soccer for nearly 20 years, isn’t ready to give it all up yet. The natural leader sees “coaching little guys” in his future, as well as getting together with fellow UM-Dearborn alumni post-pandemic in a recreation soccer league.

He says his time on campus may have been four years — but he expects that what he’s gained both professionally and personally will have a long-term impact. “What I’ve learned here will last a lifetime. The friendships will too. Things will evolve and change, but we will always have this time that we shared at UM-Dearborn,” Schmerheim says. “I’ll always be grateful for the opportunities that have allowed for my development and learning to prepare for my future."

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