Award-Winning Alum Goes from Warehouse to Board Room

Each year, UC's Raymond Walters College honors one or more of its former students who have accomplished great things - former students like Eric Broyles, senior counsel for America Online in Washington, D.C., who started at RWC in 1987 having no idea in just 15 years he’d reach his dream of becoming a successful corporate lawyer.

“I did not really envision that I would go on to have the success that I had,” Broyles says. “I hoped for it, and I aspired to it, but ultimately I didn’t think about it. What I thought about was making it to the library every day and studying hard.”

Broyles had to work hard. He didn’t have an impressive high school transcript. As a matter of fact, Broyles graduated high school at the bottom of his class. However, he says he did have three things that helped him get on the right path -- his faith in God, the support of his family, and a desire to someday become a lawyer.

He began by enrolling at RWC, which he says allowed him to improve his academic skills in a small, supportive environment. Still, it wasn’t easy. While enrolled he was also working full time selling garage doors. On most days he spent his mornings in class, his afternoons at work and his nights at the library. He didn’t let himself get overwhelmed by the long road ahead of him, he says; instead, he focused on doing the little things right every day.

His step-by-step approach carried him through school. After graduating from RWC in with an associate of arts degree in pre-business administration, Broyles went on to double-major in marketing and management at the University of Cincinnati’s Clifton campus. He received his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in June 1992, and even was given the honor of delivering the commencement address.

“This was obviously a total turnaround from my high school experience,” Broyles says.

Next he went on to the University of Virginia College of Law, followed by a judicial clerkship in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Broyles’ next position was no small feat either. He was hired on by the No. 1 corporate law firm in the world, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. After three years, he was moved on to America Online, where he is now involved with some of the most sophisticated commercial transactions available in business. On behalf of AOL, Broyles has negotiated deals with Forbes Magazine, Fox Television Network, the NBA, the NFL and many other companies and organizations.

But his most emotional transaction, he says, was the deal he negotiated with Salem Door, the Cincinnati company that employed him while he worked his way through college.

When his old boss was ready to retire, Broyles had the opportunity to purchase the company. The young man who started in the warehouse and worked his way up to salesman is now the majority shareholder of Salem Door.

“It dawned on me when we were getting ready to sign the definitive documents to close the deal, the magnitude of this accomplishment,” Broyles recalls.

Broyles will be honored at the 2003 Raymond Walters College Distinguished Awards on April 25.

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