Scholar and donor find mentoring moments on the run
Every summer for the past four years, Peter Bloom ’78 has shared with students his favorite run beside the Charles River in Boston. The students are recipients of the Ken O’Brien Scholarship, which Bloom established in 2005 in honor of his former track coach.
Ryan Durkin ’08 is still a regular on the Charles River runs. A standout 4:14 miler and captain of his cross-country, indoor, and outdoor track teams, Durkin was the first O’Brien recipient. Today, he is director of business development for CampusLIVE in Amherst, the rapidly expanding website builder begun by UMass Amherst students. Through the scholarship and shared interests in business and track, Durkin and Bloom have forged a bond.
“We talk while we’re running and the conversation is a lot less forced and artificial than it would be if we met over lunch or had a meeting,” says Bloom. “Ryan is gregarious and very smart. I’ve enjoyed watching him develop from a student to an astute businessman.”
For Durkin, Bloom has become a trusted mentor; “I ping ideas off him all the time,” he says. Bloom has helped Durkin and other students with resumes, contacts, and business advice.
Durkin, 22, received a total of $3,000 in O’Brien scholarships as well as other athletic and merit awards. His father died when he was 5 years old and money was tight for his single mother and her three children. Durkin says, “Scholarship funds basically paid for my entire UMass Amherst education. I was proud and very grateful to get through college without the burden of loans.”
As for Bloom, after UMass Amherst, he went on to earn a degree from Harvard Business School and then to a career in consulting and manufacturing operations. He is the co-founder and president of Customer Operations Performance Center Inc., which has 10 international offices and clients all across the world.
“I received an excellent, broad education at UMass Amherst,” says Bloom. “I’m interested in giving back not just with money, but through involvement with the campus and the students.”