Campus Closeup: Marina Dupler
NMU alumni have provided a connection or referral for every job Marina Dupler has held since graduating from Northern, so it’s only appropriate she has returned to her alma mater as the assistant director of Alumni Relations. She will mark two years in the position in May.
“I help to facilitate whatever relationship people who graduated from Northern want to have with the university,” Dupler said. “Generally alumni want to hear from us and the interactions are really positive or start out neutral and become positive. I like to hear stories about their time on campus.
“Each day is different as we respond to issues that arise. For example, an alumni board member suggested NMU bibs for babies of NMU alumni, so I’m exploring that idea. I work with Robyn (Stille) to set up board meetings and plan reunions or other special events, such as Wildcat Night Across the Country gatherings for NMU hockey broadcasts. It’s really about taking care of the groundwork so the alumni can focus on having fun. Sometimes faculty or academic departments would like to reach a targeted group; we can help with that, too.”
Dupler plans to make presentations at the Woodland Apartments and in Spooner Hall as part of residence life programming. Her goal is to establish a connection with current students that will carry over to their post-college professional lives and also determine the best ways for communicating with them after graduation. Dupler was a 2003 graduate of NMU, with a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and a public relations minor. Her first job was in community relations for Pinecrest Medical Care Facility in Powers. She later spent seven years at a lobbying firm in Madison, Wis.
“We represented a diverse range of clients, from labor unions to MillerCoors to the Forest County Potawatomi. I did policy research and drafted talking points on bills, then followed them through the legislative process to ensure the provisions remained intact and unchanged.”
Dupler and her husband, Nick VanCourt—a fellow Stephenson native and NMU alumnus—moved back to the Upper Peninsula when an alumna referral led Dupler to apply for the NMU position and VanCourt became head brewer at the Ore Dock Brewing Company. They are also minority owners of the operation. The couple, who met in 4th grade and started going steady in high school, welcomed daughter Ruby (pictured) about seven months ago.
“I still have a crude wood bracelet Nick made me in middle school that has a chain like you’d see with a rabbit’s foot. He didn’t even sand it,” she laughed. “But I saved it and now the initials that he wrote in pencil have faded.”
Dupler engages in a more sophisticated form of craftsmanship in her spare time: upcycled furniture. She has reupholstered a chair and settee found at thrift stores and has revamped residence hall furniture purchased from the NMU surplus site (pictured at below are the before and after shots of a dorm couch). Dupler also likes to cook, garden and read.