Alums, Students on the Fast Track at Mercedes-Benz Vans

Alums, Students on the Fast Track at Mercedes-Benz Vans

April Henry ’16 and Blair Healey ’16 have been in the Mercedes-Benz Vans pipeline since they were undergrads.

“We were in at the ground floor,” says Healey.

Both supply chain management majors in the School of Business, the two students were named the first recipients of an upperclassman scholarship offered by the automotive manufacturer, which operates an expanding van assembly plant in North Charleston. Then, they earned internships with the company.

But it didn’t stop there. They met the CEO of the facility, who sat down with them for dinner for three hours. And, when they graduated, both had job offers in hand.

“We had a week off after graduation,” says Healey.

Mercedes-Benz Vans President and CEO Michael Balke (left) talks with MBV employee Blair Healey ’16 and students Brenna Jozwiak ’17 and Paige Weiss ’17 during a tour of the North Charleston plant last fall. (Photos by Mike Ledford.)

Henry and Healey are among a host of students who have benefitted from increasing partnerships between the College and Mercedes-Benz Vans, which announced in 2015 that it was expanding its Sprinter van assembly plant and bringing more than 1,300 jobs to the Lowcountry by 2020. Some of those jobs will likely go to CofC grads from the School of Business – a sign of the blooming relationships between the College and German-American businesses in the Palmetto State.

Alyssa Bean, a spokeswoman for Mercedes-Benz in Charleston, says the company has been working with the College for several years and is a contributor to the School of Business’ Dean’s Excellence Fund. The company has also established a scholarship for rising juniors or seniors majoring or minoring in finance, global logistics and transportation, and/or supply chain management.

“We really see the value of the students that are coming out of CofC,” Bean says.

After earning the scholarships, Henry and Healey went to a dinner with the former CEO of the facility along with engineering students from Clemson University, which has a similar scholarship arrangement with Mercedes.

“We were there for three hours talking with the CEO, who was asking about school and talking about our plans,” recalls Healey. “He was legitimately interested. It was really cool and really unexpected.”

Now the pair are helping to bring new CofC students into the fold. Healey and Henry were among several employees to welcome a group of Cougars when they toured the facility last fall.

“April and Blair really were ambassadors for Mercedes-Benz Vans for those students,” says Bean.

Henry says it wasn’t just an opportunity to put on a good face for the company – she viewed it as a chance to size up her next wave of co-workers: “They’re eventually going be working next to me.”

The College connects students with careers, says Bean, whether through embracing corporate partners like Mercedes for scholarships, internship programs or career events such as the German-American Business Summit, which brought German businesses operating in South Carolina to TD Arena.

“The College does a really good job encouraging students to take advantage of those opportunities,” she says. “It’s really neat to see that level of initiative.”

Healey and Henry say they’re glad the College presented them with opportunities that turned into vibrant first jobs. They’ve gotten to travel across the globe in their roles for Mercedes – but they also get to work and make a living in a city they love.

“It’s really neat to work across so many cultures and ideas and to come out of CofC,” says Henry. “If you want variety, you’re absolutely going to get that experience at Mercedes-Benz.”