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Alumnus Success: Michael Hughes ’91

Jun 01, 2014

Here is the award, a golden trophy, being given.Randolph-Macon College alumnus Michael Hughes ’91 is the “Head of the Pack” CEO of Holiday Barn Pet Resorts. Hughes was thrilled when Holiday Barn recently received the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce IMPACT Award in the Small Business category.

A family business with locations in Chesterfield and Henrico counties, Holiday Barn Pet Resorts was recognized for its history of support to local nonprofits; investing in the development of its employees; and emerging as a leader in its industry.

Winning Ways

“It’s a great honor to be acknowledged as a leader in our community, and for our Holiday Barn ‘pack’—our terrific employees—it is validation that everything they are doing is worthwhile and appreciated,” says Hughes, whose father founded the business in 1972. “It’s awesome to see that what we set out to accomplish is successful beyond just revenue and typical business metrics; there is a special ingredient in Holiday Barn that makes us ‘wagtastic.’”

Three years ago, after hiring a business consultant, Hughes gained a clearer vision on how he and his employees needed to perform to achieve success. The result? Holiday Barn elevated its kennel business to resort status, and the company now provides pet day services as well as educational programs for pet owners. “Potential employees seek us out and I have been able to provide long-term leadership careers for 15 people, along with sound employment opportunities for 85 others,” say Hughes. “Our leaders live our culture every day within our business and in our community.”

Challenges and Rewards

At R-MC, Hughes majored in psychology and minored in religious studies. “I wanted a small-school experience,” he says, recalling his decision to apply to R-MC. “I also loved the history of the college—and the expectation for success that is the foundation of Randolph-Macon.”

Hughes says the road to success wasn’t always easy; as a freshman, he lacked direction and a strong work ethic. “One of my greatest ‘life lessons’ happened when I was academically separated,” he says. “I then realized I wasn’t taking college seriously and lacked the motivation to be successful.” Hughes took several months to reflect and returned to R-MC for the summer session, taking a psychology class with Professor Carol Hughes. “She helped me re-start my academic career through a great classroom experience, along with time in her garden planting boxwoods and talking to me about how to be successful in college and life. She inspired me to apply myself, learn better study skills, structure my time and find a course of study I could be successful in. I learned that failure isn’t a dead end; it’s a hurdle that can be overcome. Success takes hard work and dedication.”

Good Advice

Hughes stays connected to R-MC by attending sporting events, following the college’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and donating to the Randolph-Macon Fund and Yellow Jacket Club. He urges current students to make the most of their time at Randolph-Macon.

“Use the time you have at R-MC to build the skills that will help you be successful in life; academics is a crucial part of that, but so are all the other wonderful experiences the school offers,” he says. “Seek out those experiences. You’ll be glad you did.”

Paving the Way for Success

Rather than prepare students for one career, Randolph-Macon College prepares students for a lifetime of careers in an ever-changing world. Exceptional faculty work with students to cultivate their ability to think critically and analytically and to find creative solutions for solving problems. R-MC graduates are well-prepared for successful careers, often far outside of their areas of study.

The Randolph-Macon Edge and Alumni Network

The Randolph-Macon Edge, the cornerstone of the Career Center, helps Randolph-Macon students lead the pack when competing for jobs and top graduate schools. Students have the support of faculty, career coaches, alumni and staff as they focus on their personal and academic ambitions.


Students may choose to pursue paid or volunteer internships in a wide variety of settings. The Bassett Internship Program has been successfully placing students in academic internships both in the U.S. and around the globe for 30 years. Coordinated with the Center for Personal and Career Development, the program helps students identify their interests and matches them with an appropriate internship opportunity. Randolph-Macon’s alumni provide a strong network of support for students throughout their time at the college or in assisting them after graduation with career direction and opportunities.

The Four-Year Degree Guarantee

The college’s Four-Year Degree Guarantee states in writing that freshmen who meet the Four-Year Degree Guarantee requirements will graduate within four calendar years. If not, Randolph-Macon will waive tuition costs for courses needed to complete the degree. Currently, 95 percent of R-MC graduates complete their degree in four years or less—an important value-added benefit for parents to consider when visiting colleges with their students.

Study Abroad

Study Abroad programs offer students a beyond-the-classroom global perspective and opportunities to immerse themselves in other cultures. Students can choose from a host of travel courses during January Term and semester-abroad programs.


The Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program gives students the opportunity to conduct 10 weeks of original research under the guidance of faculty mentors. Many students present their findings at national and international conferences.