Meet a student who's paving his best career path, thanks to the generosity of benefactors 

Since coming to the Carlson School, undergraduate student Drew Reilly is finding his career trajectory is currently leading him in a few different directions. “I’ve co-founded three different start-ups so far, all of which have failed,” he says. So, as of late, he has been heading down the consulting path and is considering that as a way to start his career. However, he is determined to continue chasing his ideas. “Entrepreneurship will always be in my blood and I plan to stay very involved in the Minnesota start-up community,” he says. Reilly is a member of the Entrepreneurship Club and took part in Entrepreneurship in Action, a year-long experiential class taught by John Stavig, ’86 BSB, the director of the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship.

Reilly says the Carlson School environment pushes him to succeed. “Maybe that sounds cliché, but it’s true,” he says. “The professors, fellow students, and even administrators of the school have all had a hand in helping me to be the best version of myself over the past three years.”

A major push in the entrepreneurial direction has come from Reilly being selected as a Johnson Family Scholar. This scholarship is part of a $1 million gift from Michael and Todd Johnson in honor of their father, Lynn Johnson.

Lynn was the founder of Johnson Brothers Liquor Company. A true entrepreneur, he took this company from a one-man operation to more than 2,200 employees across 23 states. He was strongly connected to the U of M, from being a student, supporting Gopher athletics, hiring students, and encouraging family members to enroll here. The Johnson Family Scholarships are U-wide for student entrepreneurs, and they had their first cohort of 10 students last fall—eight of them from the Carlson School.

“The support provided by the Johnson family has allowed me to focus on taking advantage of the opportunities around me, instead of working a part-time job to pay rent and tuition,” Reilly says. One of these opportunities has been being able to participate in the Carlson Ventures Enterprise, which allows Reilly to work side-by-side with MBA candidates and do real consulting work for real clients. “It’s an amazing experience, but it’s unpaid, so having the Johnson family behind me has been pivotal in my success in this program,” he says. 

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This story originally appeared in the Carlson School alumni magazine. For more on students, faculty and alumni, read the latest issue.