How did you find your way to Colorado College?

Eric Mellum '90

Eric Mellum ’90

My family used to take an annual ski trip from Minnesota to Colorado, and so I grew up with a real fondness for Colorado. When it came time to choose a college I was pleased to discover this hidden gem of an institution nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak, with strong academics, 300 days of sunshine a year, an energetic student body, and of course, the Block Plan. After meeting several of my to-be classmates at an admitted student weekend, I was sold!

What was your major and what activities were you involved with while a student?

I majored in mathematics, and was involved in club hockey, intramural hockey, intramural ultimate, the Colorado College Choir, Chamber Chorus, and Collegium Musicum. I also gave tours for prospective students and tutored math.

Who was your greatest influence at CC?

There were so many outstanding professors there and I can’t choose just one. Don Jenkins (music), Ric Bradley (physics), and Kathy Merrill (mathematics) all influenced me greatly in different ways. Don Jenkins instilled in me a love for singing with groups that had me launch a career singing with the Minnesota Opera for the past 17 years. Ric Bradley was one of my first professors at CC, and while enrolled in his class, I sang my very first choir solo ever, with the Chamber Chorus, to a piece he composed! He made a recording of the performance and gave it to me as a gift. What other institutions can say such things about their physics professors? Kathy Merrill was simply a delight in the math classes I took with her, and she encouraged me to let my inner geek shine. All three are wonderful professors and first-class human beings.

How well did your education prepare you for your career? Was your career path obvious or did you zig and then zag as others often do?

I had no idea what I wanted to do as I was approaching graduation. Through the Career Center and on-campus interviews I learned about the systems engineering development program at EDS (now part of HP) and discovered it was a great fit for me, being able to work with technology without pigeon-holing me into a purely technical career path. My career took a slight zag when I realized there was a whole world of consulting out there beyond technology, and that I could play that game successfully. My CC education prepared me quite well for consuming a lot of new material in a short period of time, and that has contributed greatly to my success in my career.

How did you connect with CC as an alumnus?

I have stayed connected since graduation, as an alumni admission representative for several years. I attended my CC reunions, contributed to the Annual Fund, and I fairly religiously went to the local alumni events in the Twin Cities, especially the hockey games vs. the Gophers. I participated in event planning meetings and ended up getting involved with the Alumni Association Board after planning a few local events with fellow Minneapolitan Judy Thompson Fischer ’73 who was already serving on the AAB.

More than 500 students were graduated to the alumni community at Commencement recently. What two or three pieces of advice would you share with them?

Keep learning, be excellent to each other, and show your stripes boldly!

Why did you become involved with the Alumni Association Board and what are you looking forward to as its new president?

I joined the AAB because I had such a wonderful experience at Colorado College and wanted to give back. I love connecting with other alumni and bonding over the uniqueness of the intellectual adventure we shared at CC, even if it was in different decades.

If you could make CC better in some way, what would you change?

My wife saw this question and said, “Make it more like Stanford!” (her alma mater). I don’t know why I’d want to downgrade it like that.

When you have free time, how do you spend it?

Relaxing with my wife, playing soccer, hanging out with my nieces and nephews.

If you could be in a book club with any three individuals, past or present, who would they be and why?

Puccini, Einstein, and Wayne Gretzky. Puccini for creating such a great repertoire of gloriously passionate music, Einstein because I’m a physics geek at heart, and I’m not sure what Wayne would add to the conversation, but with a nickname like “The Great One” I can’t really go wrong with this choice, and he was pretty funny when he hosted “Saturday Night Live.”

If you were stranded on a desert island, what favorite piece of art (book, music, art, movie) would you like to have with you?

The Zubin Mehta recording of Puccini’s last opera, “Turandot,” featuring Joan Sutherland, Montserrat Caballé, and Luciano Pavarotti. Not just for Nessun Dorma, but all the chorus numbers and the whole scene when (spoiler alert) Liù kills herself to protect the Prince’s secret. Such passion! Of course this assumes I’ve also got a power source and a device on which to play this masterpiece — not your typical desert island.