Q&A With New Board Chair Mike Loughlin

Long-Time SRA Supporter and Board Member Shares The Importance of Giving Back and Investing In The Future of First-Generation Youth

By Kalvin Wang, UC Berkeley Rising Junior and Students Rising Above Summer Intern

The summer is coming to an end and as I prepare to head back to the University of California, Berkeley as a rising Junior, I’m grateful for the past eight weeks as the Students Rising Above Career Development intern. I experienced first-hand the team’s genuine commitment to helping first-generation college students like myself excel in social, academic, and economic opportunities. Without Students Rising Above, I would not have access to personal advising and invaluable college and career resources. I am proud to be a part of the SRA family, a supportive community of peers, all who share a commitment to education and a strong desire to make positive change in their communities.

It is with our dedicated donors, supporters and partners that 750+ first-generation college students in and around the Bay Area have been able to pursue their dreams of obtaining a college degree, with little to no student loan debt.

I recently had the opportunity and pleasure to sit down with Mike and Sarah Loughlin, long-time SRA supporters and education advocates. The Loughlin family has been committed to Students Rising Above for over a decade and we are thankful for their passion for the organization and dedication to our students and alumni.

We are honored to welcome Mr. Loughlin as the new Students Rising Above Board Chair. Mike has been a dedicated SRA board member for over five years and recently celebrated his retirement from 37 years with Wells Fargo, serving as Chief Risk Officer.

Mike will serve as the Students Rising Above Board Chair, helping us continue to break social and economic cycles of poverty by providing a new generation of a more diverse workforce.

On behalf of the SRA student and alumni community, we are grateful for Mike and the entire Loughlin family’s commitment to helping provide new opportunities and pathways for first-generation college students for years to come.

Read the exclusive Q&A with Mike Loughlin, Students Rising Above Board Chair:


Kalvin: What does Students Rising Above mean to you?

Mike: Students Rising Above means opportunity. Opportunity for first-generation college students, who are working really hard to complete their education. SRA offers assistance toward a brighter future, giving someone a little help when they most need it.

Sarah: I completely agree with you, Mike. Additionally, I’d like to add that the Hub, SRA’s online college and career advising platform, is an incredible tool, offering key resources to thousands more students across the country. To me, this is a very special piece of Students Rising Above, and it’s exciting to see it continue to develop and take off!

Kalvin: We know that your family has been engaged with SRA for over a decade. What was your family’s first engagement and what was that experience like?

Mike: I will hand this one over to my lovely wife Sarah, who first became involved with Students Rising Above over 10 years ago.

Sarah: Barb Hendricks, SRA Deputy Executive Director is a dear friend of ours from college at the University of California, Berkeley (Go Bears!). Barb had reached out to me back in 2006 to get involved with SRA. At the time, our daughter was in high school and I was focused on getting her to and through college. Barb remained persistent and it was pretty difficult to turn down the opportunity to work with a truly special organization. So together, we built out the Students Rising Above Mentor program and our family has continued to be committed to the organization in various capacities for over 10 years.

Kalvin: Do you have insight for the younger generation on why giving back is so important?

Mike: We live in a wealthy country and some people like Sarah and myself have been very lucky, however some people need a boost. SRA is that boost. I view Students Rising Above as an investment in the future and an investment in young people; giving them the boost they need.

Sarah: For the younger generation, it’s important to give back no matter how much it is and no matter where you are in life. You are helping another human wherever they are, and that’s extremely important and powerful.

Kalvin: Who inspires you?

Mike: Anyone who is working hard and doing a good job at it; whether you’re a U.S. Senator or picking peaches on a peach farm. I would hope every SRA student is working hard and doing a good job at whatever they’re doing.

Kalvin: What was your most memorable professional moment?

Mike: In the middle of financial crisis, Wells Fargo, where I worked for 37 years, made several acquisitions, making us one of the three largest banks in U.S. This allowed us to serve that many more customers and that many more geographies. I’m proud of the fact that Wells Fargo is one of the most generous givers to nonprofits in the country.

Kalvin: We’ve heard you’ve recently retired and purchased a farm. What inspired this decision?

Mike: We’ve been buying peaches at this farm for over 20 years and it came available. I thought being a small-time farmer would be fun and something we could do as a family. We’re excited for our second harvest and enjoy the physical labor together as a family.

Kalvin: Do you have tips for students, who are pursuing an internship and entering the workforce?

Mike: I’ve always loved this question. I would say: keep your eyes open, ask questions, and read a newspaper, a real newspaper like The New York Times or Wall Street Journal, that will expose you to real issues going on around the world.

Sarah: Use your resources! Students Rising Above has the most incredible staff that is focused on helping students achieve their dreams of a college education. Students need to be proactive, be persistent and follow up in order to see these opportunities through.