It’s been 33 years since we graduated from the University of Providence (then CGF). And yet, a day does not go by that we don’t think back on those experiences growing up together in Great Falls. The positive influences from our friends and mentors at UP established our life’s foundation in profound ways. We are so fortunate and grateful for that!
We met in high school while living at Malmstrom AFB, both of us from Air Force families. Todd graduated from CM Russell (81), Carol graduated Great Falls High (82). We started dating during Carol’s senior year. After high school graduation, we really had no idea what we wanted to do in life. We knew we wanted to go to college, and we were ready to strike out into the world, but where? Todd was planning to go to Ohio State where his father, Bob Dockum, graduated. But he had no clue on what he wanted to focus his academics. Lucky for us, we listened to Bob’s suggestion that Todd take a few summer classes in Accounting at CGF because CGF “had one of the best accounting programs in the country. In good times or bad, everyone needs a good accountant.” Todd had such a great experience that summer he decided do another semester, then another semester, and then another. Finally, he decided to stay in Great Falls and finish his bachelor’s degree at UP.
Likewise, Carol was unclear what direction she wanted to go at the time. Eventually, Todd convinced her to join him at CGF for a few business classes. So she started with business law, which was one of the more difficult courses in the business curriculum. She did not enjoy that first class, but she survived and decided to jump in full-time.
The tightknit family of UP embraced us, drew us in, and gave us the support we needed to thrive. A small college experience is not for everybody, but Providence was exactly what we needed and established us in several ways. We were fortunate to get involved with the Business Round Table and that provided us leadership opportunities and special friendships that we maintain all these years later. Most significantly, it was the mentoring we received (afforded with small class size), that still influences how we steer our lives today.
We knew these mentors on a first name basis. We leaned on them, heavy some times. They gave us all the one-on-one time we needed. They cared about us on a personal level, they tracked us to make sure we did not fall. They passed on wisdoms beyond the academics. These people influenced us more than any other in our lives and professional careers. They deserve special recognition: Mr. Mark Willmarth (Placement, and lifelong friend), Father James Sikora (Religion), Professor Edward Peressini (Math and Computer Science), Professor Ray Bohne (Accounting), Professor Henry Smith (Accounting), Professor Beth Wilson (Business), and last but certainly not least, Professor Tom Melly (Business). Thank you!!
After our graduation from UP, we got married and moved to Ohio where Todd got his MBA at Miami University. Carol then got her MBA at University of Detroit Mercy. Todd worked for Ford Motor Company in finance and Carol worked in sales. We had our first baby, Marisa, in 1993, and moved to London, England where we had our second child, Tyler. We then moved to Moscow, Russia, then to Rome, Italy, then finally back to Ohio to start our own companies. Carol eventually became the President of the Oxford Chamber of Commerce before starting her new online networking initiative called Beautiful Faces Going Places. Todd’s company in Dayton Ohio, TCM Global, is specializing in chemical sensors and is now focused on environmental monitoring. Our children are doing fantastic. Marisa just got married and has a great job in digital marketing, and Tyler recently married after graduation from the US Air Force Academy. All along their path, we have passed to them much of the same mentoring we received while at UP.
Tom Melly had his famous sayings (Mellyisms) which were actually life lessons. And he said them often enough that they are engrained in our souls. He would say “in business you can’t wear your feelings on your sleeve.” It did not take long for us to lean on that one. Another favorite is “life is a series of tradeoffs.” While reminiscing to write this profile, we both noticed we don’t even remember our professors or the other students from graduate school. And we don’t remember support or mentoring. We only remember all of that from UP, and we both agree that the academic excellence at UP far exceeded what we experienced at other schools later in life. We feel blessed that we made the best tradeoffs to stay and experience UP.