Alumnus Forms Nonprofit Thanks to Management Expertise, Graduate Student Field Work Team

Alumnus Scott Smoliak with his dog Bailey.
Tracy Parks, Porawee (Paul) Thongkiew, Scott Smoliak, Jing Shang, Barbara Smoliak and Kristina Valentinasa

After enduring a harrowing experience while trying to save a four-legged family member, Northwood University alumnus Scott Smoliak turned to both his business management expertise and to a Northwood University DeVos Graduate School of Management Field Work Team with the goal of creating a nonprofit to help ease the burden for others.

It all began when Smoliak had to rush Bailey, the family dog to an emergency veterinary hospital because he wasn't acting himself. There, he learned that their beloved Bernese mountain dog had swallowed a large corn cob which was causing deadly blockage and creating severe toxicity and damage to his insides.

"My heart was in my stomach," said Smoliak, a 2010 Florida graduate, and the son of long-time Florida baseball coach Rick Smoliak. "We knew we had to act quick, and were beside ourselves when we learned that there was a good chance that he wasn't going to make it."

During the nearly two week hospital stay, Smoliak along with his dad, his mother Barbara and sisters Ashley and Brittany, spent much time at the hospital and met many pet owners who were thankful that their animals were able to receive lifesaving care.

Fortunately for Bailey, they were able to afford costs totaling several thousand dollars for numerous procedures which made it possible for him to go home healthy. But the experience made Smoliak recognize that there were also many animals who never had a chance, due to exhaustive costs. Therefore, he decided to found The Bailey Project to provide financial assistance to family pets in need of critical care.

Designed specifically to help those pets who belong to families who have exhausted any and all financial resources, Smoliak drew from his experience as a Northwood business management major to form the corporation and to begin applying for their non-profit status. He also took advantage of a suggestion to coordinate with a Northwood University DeVos Graduate School Field Work Team to gain additional insight. The team, which included students Tracy Parks, Kristina Valentinasa, Porawee (Paul) Thongkiew and Jing Shang, provided valuable strategies relating to management, marketing, prioritization and organizational data statistics.

"The graduate team at Northwood invested much time and energy providing The Bailey Project with many helpful marketing and management suggestions. Scott and I enjoyed our monthly meetings with the team and together we built a wonderful foundation for the future of The Bailey Project," said Scott's mother Barbara Smoliak who serves as the Executive Director of the organization.

Having developed a solid foundation with a strategic business plan in place, the organization is now looking forward to receiving confirmation of its nonprofit status and has several major donors lined up. Already receiving weekly website donations, it is working closely with community groups and veterinary hospitals and is in the process of planning monthly events.

According to Dr. Cathy Bush, Associate Professor and Lead MBA Faculty Member of the DeVos Graduate School of Management, many local businesses benefit from the strategic consulting services provided by the graduate students. "It is exciting to see the value that our students are able to provide to business owners through their analysis and recommendations, and the students get a great opportunity to apply business concepts that they are studying to real companies. It is truly a win-win for all parties who participate in the fieldwork experience," said Bush who works closely with the students.

Having serviced over ten Southeast Florida fieldwork clients within the past two years, Northwood University DeVos Graduate School of Management field work student groups are guided by senior Northwood MBA faculty with decades of industry experience. Projects consist of consulting teams of up to six Northwood MBA students who work with small to medium-sized businesses, entrepreneurs, inventors and non-profit organizations. They provide insight relating to business unit strategy and marketing analysis by developing action-oriented recommendations to guide your future decision making. The projects present businesses with valuable research results, while enabling student consultants to reinforce their understanding of business fundamentals and to apply cutting-edge management practices to strategic business issues.

To learn more about Richard DeVos Graduate School of Management field work opportunities please contact Georgia Abbott at or (989) 837-4479.

Related Pages: Business Graduate Programs | DeVos Graduate School


Northwood University is committed to the most personal attention to prepare students for success in their careers and in their communities; it promotes critical thinking skills, personal effectiveness, and the importance of ethics, individual freedom and responsibility.

Private, nonprofit, and accredited, Northwood University specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education at three full-service, residential campuses located in southern Florida, mid-Michigan and northern Texas. Adult Degree Programs are available in seven states with many course delivery options including online. The DeVos Graduate School offers accelerated, evening and weekend programming in Michigan, Texas and Florida. The Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity and Enterprise provides system-wide expertise in family enterprise, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and new business development. International education is offered through study abroad and in Program Centers in China (Changchun and Wuxi), Malaysia and Sri Lanka.