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Week of October 25, 2010

Program assistant orients parents of new students

James Rocker, program assistant at the Office of New Student Programs, likes to immerse himself in music.

When he’s not at work, Rocker volunteers as music director at U-M radio station 88.3 WCBN and plays the bass for his band, Looking for Mammoths.

“I get great exposure to all kinds of music because I go through 80 to 100 CDs a week to decide which ones we’re going to keep for our library,” he says. Rocker’s weekly shows on the radio include “The Prescription,” which airs from 10 p.m.-midnight Fridays, and he co-hosts “The Latin Hour,” which airs from 1-2 p.m. Sundays.

Photo by Austin Thomason, U-M Photo Services.

As a child, Rocker — who considered himself an “Army brat” — moved around with his family but spent the nine years in Florida before coming to U-M. Besides being his high school’s homecoming king, Rocker was actively involved in the Trivia Team and was the drum captain for the marching band.

Today Rocker works in the LSA building. He applied for this job opening upon graduating from U-M in the summer of 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology and psychology.

His role within ONSP is “multifaceted.” During the fall semester, Rocker assists in the organization and implementation of Parents Programs, including Parents & Family Weekend. In the winter term, he puts together the M-Parent Calendar and Handbook and participates in the selection process for summer orientation leaders. The big chunk of his summer is spent working with Parent Orientation. Rocker also is responsible for monitoring the ONSP e-mail account.

Rocker’s introduction to ONSP was early on in his undergraduate career at U-M. “Right after my own freshman orientation, I knew I wanted to be an orientation leader or in the orientation theater troupe and work for ONSP,” he says. Rocker spent the summers after his freshman year first working as an orientation leader. Soon after, he became the student orientation assistant and worked in a supervisor capacity. “I’ve spent almost seven years with this department, and they have become a real support unit,” he says.

When Rocker isn’t at ONSP — busy learning that event planning and organizing are among “some things in life you just can’t wing” — he enjoys performing with his band, which is based in the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area. “My parents are not musical, but they always encouraged my little-kid interests,” he says, adding because of their encouragement he also plays drums and guitar.

Rocker’s local fame doesn’t end with music; he also holds the record for most patties eaten at Blimpy Burger. He broke and set a new record after eating four 10-patty burgers in 2007. “I was a little intimidated, but I wanted to go big,” he says.

“It took three hours, but I got a custom Blimpy T-shirt afterwards,” Rocker says. “I was also featured on Food Network and ‘Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.’”

Rocker lives in Ypsilanti with his two cats, Audio and Video.

In the future, Rocker thinks he might pursue a higher education degree in student affairs. “Helping people, especially parents and students, is always satisfying,” he says.

The weekly Spotlight features staff members at the university. To nominate a candidate, please contact the Record staff at



James Rocker, program assistant, Office of New Student Programs, on event planning and organizing: “Some things in life you just can’t wing.”


Yusef Komunyakaa poetry reading, 5:10-6:30 p.m., Oct. 25, U-M Museum of Art, Apse Room.

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