K. Kevin Saremi, MBA ’83, joined AIC’s Board of Trustees when President Vince Maniaci started in 2005 because he wanted to help advance the president’s vision to get to know the students and their wants and needs in order to help the College grow. Today, Saremi serves as chair of the Building and Grounds committee.
BY Kathrin Havrilla-Sanchez
B o in Iran, Saremi was attending boarding school in England as a young student when a friend—who was from Pennsylvania—suggested that he consider going to the United States to continue his education. Saremi ended up at Point Park College, in Pittsburgh, where he was majoring in marketing until a faculty member gave him some crucial advice.
“One of my marketing professors and a mentor to me told me that with the way the job market was looking in 1980, I might want to consider getting my associate degree in accounting while I was in school,” says Saremi. “I ended up staying at Point Park an extra semester to take the additional courses I needed, and down the road it helped tremendously.”
Because the College allowed him to transfer his surplus college credits, Saremi chose to pursue a master of business administration at AIC, where he met his wife, Debbie, who was also pursuing her MBA.
When Saremi graduated in 1983 in the middle of a recession, jobs were difficult to come by. “I was working at a doughnut shop making bagels with three college degrees under my belt,” remembers Saremi. “I reached out to AIC’s career development office—then called The Placement Center—and they were able to use their connections to help me land an interview for an accounting job at Chicopee Savings Bank. Good thing I got that associate degree when I had the chance!”
And Saremi wasn’t the only one in the family to benefit from AIC’s career development services—Debbie also got her first job at Commercial Union Insurance Company through The Placement Center’s connections.
After a year at Chicopee (now Westfield) Bank, Saremi moved on to Monarch Capital, in Springfield, where he started as an internal auditor and then moved around within the organization to work in cash management and corporate financial reporting.
“At the time, my career was all finance-related activities,” says Saremi. He worked with the heads of various divisions, offering marketing ideas for annuities and other products, before joining Palmer Goodell Insurance Agency in 1990. There, he focused on new product development.
In 1992, Saremi started Consolidated Health Plans (CHP) with a couple of partners and began a claim processing company for student insurance products. After years of growing CHP and its range of products, Berkshire Hathaway bought the company—now known as Wellfleet—in 2011.
“When I was working on the insurance side of things, I always thought that preventative care should be part of the insurance companies’ products,” says Saremi. “However, this has a lot of upfront cost and no upfront benefits—those come later in life when you help young people learn how to prevent costly health issues like type 2 diabetes and drug and alcohol abuse.”
In 2012, Saremi and his wife founded Future Health, which develops documentaries for college students on health education and wellness and offers counseling services to students through partner agencies. “Debbie and I decided to develop a program that college students take as a pass/fail course,” says Saremi. “It’s now being used up and down the East Coast and is one of the few outreach programs of its kind. We believe that as more people understand the variety of health and wellness issues that can affect anyone, they can help others.”
Among his many other accomplishments, Saremi is co-founder and partner of the real estate firms Saremi, LLP, and Silktree Properties, LLC, and owns and operates an insurance agency called Insurance for Students out of Delray Beach, Florida. He has served as a past board member for the Employer’s Association of New England, Holyoke Boys and Girls Club, Young President’s Organization, and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield; and received an honorary doctor of commercial science degree from AIC in recognition of his many years of dedicated service to the College.
THE SAREMIS HAVE BEEN avid supporters of AIC since their graduations, providing continued sponsorship and guidance.
We believe that as more people understand the variety of health and wellness issues that can affect anyone, they can help others."
“Because we met at AIC, we’ve always been partial to it,” laughs Saremi. “I remember when we were both still in school and trying to make ends meet, the finance department worked with us so that we could defer our tuition payments until after graduation. I’ve never forgotten that help and kindness.”
As a direct result of the Saremis’ patronage, AIC’s Career Development Center has been renovated and modernized to empower a new generation of students and alumni to receive the help and assistance to define, develop, and achieve their employment goals. In 2010, in recognition of their stewardship, it was renamed the Saremi Center for Career Development.
“Debbie and I are both firm believers that every college needs a strong career center,” says Saremi. “We were both fortunate enough to benefit from AIC’s career connections when we needed the help, and we are grateful that we can help ensure that same kind of support for future students.”
As for those future students, Saremi has some words of advice: “Whatever you decide to do in your life, you’ve got to work hard at it. Think it through and make sure it’s what you enjoy, because having a business isn’t always fun and games; there are a lot of little headaches, and it’s not always an instant success. But once you start, don’t give up.”