The Smith Vets Club mission is to provide advocacy, assistance and requisite support to all military veterans enrolled within the University of Maryland MBA program and those who seek acceptance. We are committed to coordinating value-added events that foster espirit de corps and build close camaraderie amongst our distinguished members.
Ultimately, the overarching goal of this club is to ensure that the Smith MBA is the #1 choice amongst veterans to garner high-caliber candidates who will continue to build upon the superb legacy we have built.
Smith Vets Club President
Adam Gard is currently a Full-Time MBA student (Smith ’21), following the Marketing path. Originally from the Baltimore area, he acquired his Undergraduate Degree from Stevenson University with a B.S. in Public History (’13). During Undergrad, he enlisted in the National Guard as an MP but quickly changed his mind and entered the ROTC program at Johns Hopkins University where he earned his commission (’14).
Adam’s initial duty assignment as an Active Duty Transportation Officer was the 52nd EOD Brigade in Ft. Campbell, KY (’14). At this assignment, he served concurrent roles as the HHD XO, an a-S3 and Strategic Mobility Officer. His inter-post transfer led him to 3rd Brigade 101st (Rakkasan), where he was the Maintenance Officer and Platoon Leader for an Infantry Battalion (LEADER, 1-187). Following that fun time, he became the Current Ops, Plans and S3 for the Brigade Logistics Battalion (ASSURGAM, 626BSB) for approximately 13 months. It was this ball of fun that pushed him to leave the Army and pursue continued education. His acceptance into MIT put the last nail in the coffin and he expediently said goodbye to the military (’18).
Adam acquired his first master’s degree in Supply Chain Management at MIT and subsequently embarked on a quest to obtain an MBA. He is scheduled to graduate in 2021.
Smith Vets VP of Finance
Michael M. Lowney is a full-time MBA student ( ’21) candidate at the University of Maryland (College Park) studying Finance. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and a minor in History from Siena College while completing the Army ROTC program there. Mike commissioned as a Signal Officer in the U.S. Army in 2015 and separated in 2019 to pursue his graduate degree.
His assignments include Executive Officer, HHB, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade in Osan, South Korea; Signal Platoon Leader and Executive Officer, Alpha Company, 63rd Signal Battalion Battalion, 35th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade at Fort Stewart, GA where he managed a 100 personnel cross-functional headquarters element responsible for tactical communications, supply, administrative, and maintenance operations; and Battalion Adjutant, HHC, 63rd Signal Battalion, 35th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade.
Assistant Director of Military and Veterans Affairs
James Vika is a full-time MBA (’21) candidate at the University of Maryland (College Park) with a focus in Finance. He received his Bachelor of Science in Economics with a minor in Finance from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. While at Drexel, he completed the Navy’s ROTC program at the University of Pennsylvania. Jim was commissioned as a Nuclear Surface Warfare Officer in 2013 and separated in 2019 to pursue his graduate degree.
Following commissioning, he was assigned to the USS Spruance in San Diego, CA as the Strike Warfare Officer. While on Spruance, he deployed to 7th Fleet in 2013 – 2014 during the ship’s maiden deployment. In 2015, he attended the Navy’s Nuclear Power Program in Charleston, SC. Following graduation from the Nuclear Power Training Unit, he was assigned as the Reactor Control Division Officer onboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike). While on Ike, Jim deployed to 5th and 6th Fleet in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and qualified as a Nuclear Engineer prior to separating from the Navy.
Online MBA Chapter Rep, Smith Vets
Hillary Fort is a Full time OMBA (‘21) candidate at the University of Maryland (College Park) with a focus in Supply Chain Management. She is originally from Dallas, Texas and currently lives in Annapolis, Maryland. She received her Bachelor of Science in Geology from Southern Methodist University (‘12) and started her career as a Data Analyst in the petroleum industry in Houston, Texas. She later moved to the Fast Track to Management program within her organization. In this HQ program she worked as a Fluid Loss and Gain Analyst aboard various offshore drilling installations throughout Europe and Africa.
After being immersed in the maritime industry, she decided to commission as a NOAA Corps officer and attended OCS at the US Coast Guard Academy (‘17). Her first assignment was aboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster based in Charleston, South Carolina, serving as an Officer of the Deck and Scientific Diver. She recently assumed the Technical Operations Officer position for the National Weather Service’s Ocean Prediction Center located in College Park, Maryland. Within this role, she is the project manager for the S-41X Marine Weather Overlay product specification, which will display weather hazards, conditions, and observations on electronic navigational charts in the maritime industry.
Part Time MBA Chapter Rep, Smith Vets
Steven Kresl is a part-time MBA (‘21) candidate at the University of Maryland (College Park). Originally from the Chicago land area, Steven graduated from the University of Northern Illinois with a BA in Criminology and minor in Political Science. Following graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2010 as a Special Warfare Combatant Craft-Crewman (SWCC). During his enlistment, Steven’s three deployments overseas focused on joint training exercises with partner militaries to enhance interoperability with U.S. forces; detect, deter, and engage threats; and advance mutual security interests. To this end, he has planned, developed, and executed multiple Joint Combined Exchange Training Events and Counter Narcoterrorism Events throughout the African, European, and Asian Special Operations Combatant Commands. In 2017, he earned his MA in Homeland Security from Penn State University. Currently, Steven works for the Naval Special Ware program office in Washington D.C. as an undersea warfare consultant.
Part Time MBA Chapter Rep, Smith Vets
Barry Feinstein is a part-time MBA (‘21) candidate at the University of Maryland (College Park). He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. There, he completed the NROTC program and commissioned as a nuclear-designated Surface Warfare Officer. His first assignment was as the Strike Officer on the guided missile destroyer USS LASSEN in Yokosuka, Japan. Barry completed numerous patrols of the South China and Yellow Seas. In 2015, he attended the Navy’s Nuclear Power Program in Charleston, SC. Following graduation from the Nuclear Power Training Unit, he was assigned as the Reactor Control Division Officer aboard USS GEORGE WASHINGTON. In this role, he was instrumental in preparing both reactors for dry docking and defueling and qualified as a Nuclear Engineer. He is currently an advisor at the NROTC program at UMD, providing leadership and navigation training to 90 undergraduate students.
Executive MBA Chapter Rep, Smith Vets
Eric Hamlin is an Executive MBA (‘20) candidate at the Robert H Smith School of Business, University of Maryland College Park. Eric received a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Hampton University, Hampton Virginia. He holds a Master of Arts in Diplomacy from Norwich University, Burlington, Vermont, and an Associate of Arts in French from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Monterrey, California. A former United States Army commissioned officer, Eric performed as a Foreign Area Officer (FAO) specializing in Sub-Saharan Africa policy, with capstone assignments at the US Embassy in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. He served combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and held numerous political-military assignments on the continent of Africa. Presently, Eric assists the United States Air Force as an international affairs strategist. His chief task involves managing relationships among a vast constellation of domestic and international stakeholders who aim to build the security capabilities of U.S. military partners.
Specialty Master’s Chapter Rep, Smith Vets
Benjamin Yahle is an Active Duty Lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard. He is currently a full-time Masters Student at the University of Maryland (College Park) studying Information Systems as part of the Coast Guard’s Post-Graduate School Program. Prior to attending UMD, from 2017 to 2019 Ben served as the Commanding Officer of the USCGC CHARLES DAVID JR, a 154-foot patrol boat homeported in Key West, FL. During his time onboard, CHARLES DAVID JR conducted search-and-rescue, counter-drug, fisheries enforcement, and alien-migrant interdiction operations in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico.
His other previous tours include Operations Officer of the USCGC RESOLUTE in St. Petersburg, FL, Weapons Officer of the USCGC SHERMAN in San Diego, CA, and Deck Watch Officer of the USCGC MOHAWK in Key West, FL. He received his commission after graduating from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 2011.
He is originally from Dayton, OH and he and his wife Amber have a four-year-old daughter. After graduating from UMD in December 2020, Ben and his family hope to serve a follow-on tour in the Northern Virginia/DC area managing Coast Guard IT projects.
To connect with any of the Smith Vets, please reach out to Frank Goertner at email@example.com who will facilitate the connection.