GVSU Alumni, Aaron Radelet, speaks on campus


GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Steven Lawrence, Staff Writer

On Thursday, the Frederik Meijer Honors College welcomed Aaron Radelet, a Grand Valley State University alumni, to speak on campus about his life and his career. Radelet graduated from GVSU in 1998 with his advertising and public relations degree. He was also part of the Student Senate, Alternative Breaks and was a resident assistant. 

Now, Radelet is the global communications officer and senior vice president at Walgreen Boots Alliance (WBA), which has been ranked 16 on the Fortune 500. Radelet is in charge of communications for the company both internally and externally, he is also the executive sponsor of WBA’s LGBTQ+ resource center. 

Radelet spoke of his time at GVSU and other life experiences that have helped shape his career and him as a person. He focused on the importance of finding balance in one’s work and social life on a day-to-day basis. While finding success in the workforce is a goal for many, Radelet emphasized that it’s not the only important thing in life. 

“We should strive to be so much more than our jobs, and instead when asked what we do it should be a combination of all of our life’s accomplishments,” Radelet said. 

Radelet left his dream job in order to spend more time with his family. He also took time off to travel and discover himself. 

“Life is like jumping across a rock, every time you take a leap it is fun and freeing, but you also open yourself up to falling and getting hurt,” Radelet said.

Radelet spoke about how people have to be comfortable with themselves, to step out of any closet that they might be holding themselves in. Radelet reflected on his time at GVSU, where he was struggling with being comfortable with himself and who he is. He stated that once he was comfortable with himself enough to come out as gay, he saw an instant increase in not only his wellbeing and mental health but also his work ethic as a student.

Radelet concluded his talk by restating that life is so much more than a job and that it’s important to be true to one’s passions. No matter if that means changing career paths, taking a year off to travel or just doing something that garnishes happiness. 

“Authenticity is the best way to build not only a professional brand, but a personal one also,” Radelet said.

After his speech, Radelet reflected on his decision to come to speak at GVSU. 

“Well, Grand Valley is my Alma Mater, I couldn’t really say no,” Radelet said. “Grand Valley has offered me so much in becoming who I am, that it was a pleasure to come back and talk.”

Radelet’s speech was part of a lecture series that is put on by the Frederik Meijer Honors College, they host alumni or people with ties to West Michigan and have them share their experiences. To know more about these events be sure to visit https://www.gvsu.edu/honor/frederik-meijer-lecture-series-58.htm to see upcoming and past lectures.