Alumni Spotlight


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Betsy Towner Levine
Senior Writer

Bret Johnson, ’95


Like the Rockstar drinks he has promoted, Bret Johnson, UC Davis College of Biological Sciences class of ’95, is high energy. An Exercise Science alum, Johnson has spent his post-college days fueling his entrepreneurial spirit, hosting TV shows, and helping to grow various brands of highly popular energy drinks.

This year he is putting together the first American music festival in Cuba, arranging VIP packages for the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans, selling sponsorships for myriad events, helping a non-profit startup called, and aiding in the development of an exercise product.

And at the heart of it all is his experience from the College of Biological Sciences.

Bret is a perfect example of how versatile a degree in the life sciences truly is. While many students do pursue careers in the health sciences and medical professions, many others get creative with their degrees and follow the road less travelled. A degree that can open multiple doors to future employment, especially in a very competitive and limited job market, is the biggest tool young graduates can have as they begin to carve out their futures.

When asked how his science degree has helped him achieve his myriad successes in frequently non-scientific careers, he was quick to reply with an anecdote.

“When I was in school, I remember working on my calculus homework. It consisted of three problems, each of which took 40 minutes to solve. Frustrated, I called my dad asking why I should spend all this time on calculus when I could just as easily not take it and get a B.A. degree.”

Like fathers often can, Bret’s was able to offer him some very simple, yet essential advice.

“He told me I should do the problem in order to learn the patience to work it out.”

Bret credits this advice, and his completion of that calculus class, to subsequently receiving his B.S. degree and acquiring the virtues of both patience and problem solving. And that combination has proven to be a trifecta of success for him throughout his career.

“Because of my experience getting my B.S. at UC Davis, I currently am a problem-solver,” he explains. “That translates to me being able to manage people well and being able to handle the daily fires that occur in business. I find solutions, which is a huge ingredient in sales.”

He has been able to directly leverage his degree in Exercise Physiology, and his ensuing understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of the human body, as a sports model for Adidas and Bowflex, a personal trainer at various Los Angeles gyms, host of many action sports TV shows on Fox Sports Net, as well as work as a health and fitness expert for Men’s Health Magazine. It has also helped support his recent career with Rockstar Energy Drinks.

“People would ask about the ingredients and what they do to the body. I have a science background so I could easily understand the chemistry and it was easy for me to explain.”

His advice to current students just getting started?

“Get involved with things you are interested in early. If you have a general idea of what you want to study, find work or internships in that field. Even if you think you know specifically what you want to do, it will change. Doing this will help you carve out the proper elective classes and help set goals for after graduation.”

In a world where versatility and adaptability are paramount to success, a degree from the College of Biological Sciences is a strong foundation from which successful, and often creative and unexpected, career paths are forged every day. And Bret Johnson certainly proves it.