Gary Schlinkert is a big advocate of community colleges. The Marysville High School graduate attended St. Clair County Community College from 1973 to 1975.
“Both my folks and I felt that two years at SC4 would be best – and a lot cheaper,” said Schlinkert, who is senior vice president of West Shore Bank in Ludington, Michigan. “I learned a lot and enjoyed my time there. I was involved in Student Government as a representative of Phi Theta Kappa, played sports and got to know other students, many of whom I am still in contact with to this day.”
According to Schlinkert, he also was inspired by SC4 faculty members to pursue new interests in economics and the stock market.
“I had several excellent professors while I was at SC4, particularly in the areas of economics, physics and mathematics,” he said. “Professor Tansky and Professor Falls were excellent instructors. I learned a lot from them. The fact that I remember their names after so many years is a testament to the impact they made on me as a young student.”
Schlinkert transferred from SC4 to Lawrence Technological University in 1975 to pursue a degree in architecture. However, he soon changed his path back to his interest of economics and finance, enrolling at the New York Institute of Finance. There he earned several certifications that prepared him for the licensing required to be a registered representative, insurance, options and commodity broker.
Most of Schlinkert’s career has been spent as an executive in the financial sector. He was a licensed stockbroker for more than 30 years and was originally involved in bringing stock brokerage services to community banking customers at what is now a large regional bank. In his current position at West Shore Bank, he oversees wealth management, deposit operations, human resources, compliance and internal audit.
Schlinkert, who lives in Manistee, is in the process of transferring credits to SC4 to earn his Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees for summer 2020 graduation through the reverse transfer option. He maintained ties to SC4 through his son, Craig, who served for 20 years in the U.S. Navy, graduated from SC4 with his associate degree, and went on to Rutgers University and its National Transit Institute for Procurement. Schlinkert also has two daughters who received their bachelor’s degree, one from Oakland University (Jaime Greene) and the other from Alma College (Carly Schlinkert). Jaime also has her MA in Human Services. His grandson (Andrew Chambers) is currently enrolled at Macomb Community College.
Schlinkert plans on retiring in a few years after a long and successful career. He said he is proud of his family and of all others who choose to pursue higher education, especially at a community college.
“The cost of a college education at a private or state university has become prohibitive,” he said. “The opportunity for a student to take their core classes at a fraction of the cost at a community college should resonate as this next generation of college-aged student prepares for their next step.”
“Not every job requires a four-year degree in order to be successful either,” he continued. “In addition to preparing for a four-year degree, community colleges also offer technology and certification programs to train future employees for good paying jobs.”
Schlinkert also serves on his bank’s scholarship committee, which gives multiple scholarships every year to qualified and need-based area students going to West Shore Community College. He recently helped establish an internship program at the bank to identify current and future West Shore students who have the potential to succeed in the world of finance.