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Mike Zembower '04 shares perspective on his non-traditional path

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Posted on Monday, January 10, 2022

“Be courageous and embrace the great people around you, challenge yourself to understand your potential, and be the type of person great people would join,” says Mike Zembower '04, who wears many hats as an IDQ Business Consultant, director of Rosalie’s Forever Footprints, owner of Rising Valley Residential & MPZ Contracting, ACN IBO, & recently elected councilman of Poland Village, Ohio. Mike, who earned his bachelor’s in business administration, shares a bit about his nontraditional path while at Westminster and also how he is executing a purposeful and impactful legacy on his community.  

Tell us about your Westminster experience in a few sentences?
My experience was unique. I started my collegiate journey in August 2000, but shortly thereafter was blessed with my first daughter in March 2002. Therefore, my efforts were invested in working full time and I was one of a few commuting traditional students. I scheduled most of my classes early enough to still have the ability to work a full shift later in the day. I unfortunately was not able to participate in any of the extra experiences Westminster had to offer. I did however complete my degree in August 2004.

What are some of your areas of passion in your life today?
I consider myself fortunate that my professional career and efforts have provided me the clarity to now focus on what I would consider the legacy portion of life. My wife Ashley, my children and my community are now the recipients of the majority of my passion and energy. Tragedy struck my wife and I in April 2020 when we lost our daughter Rosalie to a rare medical condition. As with all my children, I expect them to do great things in this world. Unfortunately, Rosalie did not have that opportunity. In memory of Rosalie, my wife and I created Rosalie’s Forever Footprints, a 501 (c)3 non-profit created on her 1st birthday Aug. 21st, 2021. Rosalie’s Forever Footprints is focused on local community projects that help better the community, enhance family engagement and create a lifetime of positive memories for children in the community. Since, our community has adopted a second “little library” location in our neighborhood and launched the first annual Poland Express which flew Santa and his sleigh through the streets of Poland to visit the children in our community, sing Christmas carols, collect letters and more. We hope Rosalie’s Forever Footprints will lead to a much larger project in the near future. In addition to this passion project, Ashley and I own a residential property investment company that we both enjoy growing and embracing the potential that passive income provides. This has allowed us to reinvest ourselves into our community beyond Rosalie’s Forever Footprints by joining community groups such as the Poland Lions Club, the Poland Rotary, the Poland Junior Women’s Club, the Poland PTO, and most recently, my elected seat to Poland Village Council to help guide local government for my community and neighbors.

Does your Westminster/Titan community come into play in any of your current work, volunteerism or community service, if so how?
Westminster was a special place from the beginning. My opportunity to be a part of Westminster was offered due to my athletic career in high school.  Although I never followed through on becoming a collegiate athlete, I don’t feel I would have had the ability to become a college graduate in its absence. I was first in my family to graduate from college and that opportunity, due to financial circumstances, would have never been a reality without the investment Westminster and its alumni community made in me. I consider the investment in my community my chance to pay it forward. I often find other Westminster alums throughout my business and community networks. I’m fortunate to have their support and help with many of the endeavors noted above.  

We often talk about the impact and power of the Westminster alumni community.  The quote you have on your website for Rosalie’s Footprints reads: "None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful." ~ Mother Teresa”
How can fellow alumni take that concept and apply it to their daily lives?

This quote is humbling, which is why I adore it. Most of us aspire to make great change and do great things, but there’s a point when the dreams and aspirations begin to evolve and change from those we pursued so relentlessly during our “warrior” stage of life. In my professional career, I feel the bulk of my success stemmed from embracing other’s talents, passions and skills. Everyone wants to be a part of bigger things and greater successes; I was fortunate to have a collection of mentors around me that opened my eyes to inviting those individuals into those dreams. Goals are more enjoyably when met with a crowd to reflect on the journey and goals that took a hundred sets of hands; tend to withstand the tests of time versus those achieved by one. In summary, embrace those great people around us, challenge ourselves to understand their potential, and be the type of person those great people would join. All those attributes combined have the potential to create a special community and it all starts with a simple handshake, smile and hello. We should encourage ourselves and others to find the courage to start there and embrace the journeys that await.