Alumni Success Stories

Ferris Honors Program Alumnus Douglas SearlesDouglas Searles
Graduated 2003
B.S. Applied Mathematics

Doug Searles worked as Actuarial Analyst for Jackson National Life Insurance and Farm Bureau Life Insurance in Lansing, Michigan, from his Ferris graduation until 2006. His undergraduate studies in Applied Mathematics and Speech Communication have made the beginning of his career quite successful. He has passed multiple levels of the Society of Actuaries proficiency exam series and has led department projects at both Jackson and Farm Bureau. Searles credits his early success to the vast opportunities he had in the Ferris and Honors communities, ranging from competing on the football team, founding multiple community outreach organizations, serving as an executive intern for former Ferris President Bill Sederburg, and competing in speech competitions.

Supplementary to his professional career, Doug has traveled across the Western Hemisphere as a short-term missionary. Joining his wife, Debbie (Honors Program and College of Optometry graduate, May 2006), in Haiti, Honduras, and Ecuador, they worked in free eye care clinics to serve the citizens of those impoverished countries. These experiences have caused Searles to rethink and redirect his career path. Since August of 2006, Doug has been attending the Yale School of Management to obtain a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in general management. His newfound career aspiration is to combine business skills with socially beneficial ideas while leading an international development organization creating sustainable improvement in the developing world. Searles has started down this career path by serving as a Marketing and Strategic Planning Associate with World Vision during the summer of 2007 and hopes to gain significant management experience with a Fortune 500 company upon graduation from Yale.

The Honors Program played an instrumental part in Searles reaching his early professional goals, developing a heart for serving others, and gaining admission to Yale.

"Honors was a place where I felt encouraged to lead, create, and succeed. My desire to serve others was fostered by the encouragement to do so on the campus and in the Big Rapids community. In addition, I developed my leadership skills by working with fellow students who were adamant about participating in the community," he said. "My fondest memory of being in the Honors Program is the opportunity I had to interact with an array of people. During the span of three days I could work with Ferris' administration on political relations activities, attend an alumni fundraiser in Grand Rapids, serve the elderly at Big Rapids Altercare, and win a football game with my teammates. The highlight, however, was taking advantage of the terrific cultural events as dates with my future wife. All kidding aside, the ability to stretch my mind by being challenged in the classroom, attending cultural events, and serving my community was an irreplaceable experience only the Honors Program could offer."