Samuel Callen ’08 to Receive 2022 Alumni Achievement Award
Muskegon Community College will present its 2022 Alumni Achievement Award to Samuel Callen ’08, the Vice President of Strategy for Worldpay by FIS, the world’s leading global payments provider.
Established in 2017, the Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes extraordinary professional achievement by an MCC graduate from the past 15 years, is selected by the MCC Alumni Relations Committee.
Callen will formally acknowledge his honor with videotaped remarks to be included as part of the 2022 Commencement video.
Born and raised in Kent City, MI, Callen attended MCC prior to transferring to Ferris State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, and was an award-winning member of the school’s Speech and Debate Team.
After Ferris State, he moved to Alaska to serve in the AmeriCorps VISTA program, with a specific focus on rural Alaskan economic development as a means of poverty alleviation. Through his placement at the University of Alaska, Callen led the growth and scale-up of two non-profit initiatives focused on spurring rural entrepreneurship. From there, he was promoted first to a Strategy Consultant, and then to the Associate Director of Strategy for the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development. In these roles, he led several statewide economic development projects, including one that was nominated for an economic development innovation award.
During his time in Alaska, Callen was an active member of the community, co-founding and serving as the vice president for the Anchorage chapter of AmeriCorps Alumni, where he focused on developing a thriving AmeriCorps community within the region. He also established a scholarship fund in his hometown of Kent City, focused on supporting high-potential graduates from his high school alma mater.
After Alaska, he earned his MBA from the Harvard Business School, where he interned at one of the world’s leading management consulting firms, Bain and Company, and focused on strategy and private equity projects. After concluding at Harvard, he relocated to Bain’s Chicago office to work full time. His project work included time spent on addressing the growing problem of plastic pollution, as well as an economic development revitalization strategy focused on the Metro Detroit community.
From there, Callen joined Worldpay, a global leader in e-commerce and payments, in an internal consulting role in their Denver office. Over the next two and a half years, he quickly rose through the ranks into senior leadership. His career progression spanned from roles as a Senior Strategic Solutions Consultant, to Director of Portfolio Strategy, to Senior Director of Merchant Strategy, ultimately leading to his current role as the Vice President of Merchant Strategy.
He now focuses on leading the global strategy for the Worldpay division of FIS, which FIS acquired in 2019 for approximately $40B. He concentrates on mergers and acquisitions, global competitive alliances, and the overall long-term strategy of the division. He manages an international team that spans three continents, with a presence in the U.S., the United Kingdom, and India.
Callen credits his time at MCC as being an especially instrumental foundation for his current professional success.
“Muskegon Community College impacted my life in many ways,” he explained. “First, by allowing me the privilege of attending college in the first place. Neither my parents, or any of my grandparents were college graduates. College was a foreign concept to me, and financing brought a whole host of additional challenges. Muskegon Community allowed me to stay near family while affordably furthering my education. It wasn’t until I went to Muskegon Community that I was able to start connecting the dots on where my life could head.”
“When I think back on the influential relationships that I had at MCC, there were many. It was the guidance counselors who taught me about some of the scholarships available at Ferris State, which motivated me to put in the extra work necessary to win one. It was my government professor, Kurt Troutman, who encouraged me to think about my role in civic society, and how to be an active leader within the community. And it was my philosophy class – still the hardest class I’ve ever taken in my life – that taught me the importance of hard work to be successful.”
At Ferris State, his “next set of mentors” further opened his eyes to what was possible.
“I remember my first conversation with my debate coach, when I told him I wanted to go to law school,” recalled Callen. “He told me I needed to go Harvard, and he kept repeating it, and repeating it…until I started to believe it myself.”
“However, none of that would have been possible without having had the pathway to achieve it, and MCC will always hold a nostalgic place in my heart. It forced me to begin thinking about my career, the world around me, and the role I wanted to play in it. I received a personal level of investment from my professors that I truly never saw at any other school I attended. They took an interest in me, and that interest led me to where I am today.”
“And, more than anything, MCC taught me the importance of mentoring others, and being there to provide a helping hand to folks who need it. Had I not been fortunate enough to have had some of those opportunities that were afforded to me, or those mentors who managed to get through to me, I may not have ever made it to where I am today, and for that I’m forever grateful.”
He and his wife, Natasha, reside in Denver, Colorado. They have one son, Oliver, with a second on the way.
Alumni Achievement Award at MCC
The Alumni Achievement Award recognizes alumni within 15 years of graduating from MCC for their extraordinary professional accomplishments. Award recipients are selected based on the following criteria:
- MCC college career – The nominee must have earned an associate’s degree or certificate, or completed a minimum of 50 credit hours at Muskegon Community College and have demonstrated a record of excellence in academics and extracurricular participation.
- Professional and Community Achievement – The nominee must have distinguished himself or herself through achievement or advancement in his or her career, earned degrees, professional training, professional recognition and/or outstanding contributions to his or her field. Nominee shall have demonstrated a record of community participation and involvement.
- Availability – In addition to the above criteria, the nominee must be available to attend the Alumni Awards Dinner prior to Commencement.
Do you know an outstanding recent MCC alumnus?
If you would like to nominate for the 2023 Alumni Achievement Award, please use the online form linked below. All fields must be filled out to qualify. Note: it is recommended you have all information on the nominee in hand before filling out the nomination form. Self-nominations are accepted. The form requires all contact information, and additional information as noted above.