November 10, 2017

Pop culture, Dungeons & Dragons serve as backdrop to SVSU play exploring sisterly bond

A play deeply rooted in fantasy, 1990s pop culture references, and sarcasm will test the acting talents of Saginaw Valley State University students Nov. 15-19 in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.

"She Kills Monsters" follows the life of Agnes Evans, a young teacher whose parents and sister, Tilly, die tragically in a car accident. While packing up Tilly's belongings, Agnes, played by Amber Hadley, an SVSU communication and theatre major from Marine City, stumbles across a notebook filled with the late teen's Dungeons & Dragons homemade quest. Knowing nothing about this fantasy role-playing game, Agnes reaches out to a local comic book store owner for help in completing her sister's quest. Little does Agnes know that she will be thrust into a world full of goblins, ogres, and evil elves.

The production constantly jumps back and forth between Agnes's real life in 1995 and the fantasy D&D world where Tilly is "reincarnated" through the words in her journal. However, Dave Rzeszutek, SVSU associate professor of theatre and director of the show, promises that audience members do not need to be familiar with role-playing games to follow the story line.

"Even if someone is not familiar with, or has never heard of Dungeons & Dragons before, they will understand the show. The D&D game is a backdrop for the main character to learn about her estranged sister," he said.

The set is designed to reflect when Agnes is experiencing her real life and when she is in the game to help the audience better understand the more unfamiliar aspects of the show.

The show involves many combat scenes between Agnes and the other characters in the game.

Hadley explained that learning stage combat has been the hardest but most rewarding part of preparing for the show.

"It's like really, really intense choreography, and when you get it right, it all just flows so perfectly," she said.

Because these violent scenes are coupled with mature language and adult themes, the show is recommended for patrons age 16 and older.

Watch Hadley and the rest of the cast bring this imaginary world to life Wednesday to Saturday, Nov. 15-18 at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $13 for the general public and $10 for students or attendees 60 and older

November 9, 2017

SVSU faculty awards recognize outstanding educators

The Faculty Association at Saginaw Valley State University recognized outstanding faculty members during the 32nd annual SVSUFA Faculty Awards. The awards are presented to those faculty members who have shown initiative in teaching and research as well as providing a supportive environment for their students and colleagues.

Bill Williamson, professor of professional and technical writing, received the Outstanding Mentoring Award for his efforts in assisting his fellow faculty members within the Professional and Technical Writing Department. Colleagues expressed that Williamson's support and willingness to collaborate made him someone they can rely on within the department. He remains engaged in departmental development as well as national discussions on rhetoric and communication by serving as the director of the SVSU Center for Usability Studies and Universal Design, and co-coordinator of the Usability Research Team. He also presents at several regional and national conferences.

The Outstanding Scholarship Award was granted to Jennifer Stinson, an associate professor of history. This award is given to a faculty member who has demonstrated diligence, proficiency and depth in scholarship. Stinson has invested much of her time and efforts into furthering the discussion on race, class and gender in 19thcentury America. Her unique perspective is evident in her approach to these topics, colleagues say. Stinson continues to examine the meaning of slavery and race in specific regions of the U.S. while pursuing the publication of her first book. She continues to present her ideas at conferences around the world. Two of her peer-reviewed articles have already been published in academic journals in her field.  

The Outstanding Service Award went to Blake Johnson, professor of art, for his work both on the campus of SVSU and in the surrounding community. Johnson is the founding member of SVSU's internationally acknowledged Cardinal Solutions, an organization dedicated to solving problems for local organizations. The team has quickly established a name for itself in the community, inspiring a 2-year waiting list for its services. Alongside his work with Cardinal Solutions, Johnson is an active participant in all recruiting activities associated with the Art Department at SVSU. He also volunteers his services in the community by putting on art and design workshops for local schools.

The selected faculty members were presented with their awards at the Faculty Association Banquet on Friday, Oct. 13.

A handful of high-achieving SVSU students were also awarded scholarships at the banquet.

Carmen Randall, a nursing major from Bay City; and Kristi Root, a social work major from Standish, were awarded the Chrysalis Scholarship.

Rebecca Carson, an athletic training major from Roseville; Kaylyn Schiemann, a Petoskey native in the pre-physical therapy program; and Ashley Teets, an athletic training major from Newport, were awarded the Faculty Association Endowed Scholarship.

November 9, 2017

SVSU to host Veterans Day Celebration - Thursday, Nov. 9, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Curtiss Hall Banquet Rooms at SVSU

Saginaw Valley State University will host its Veterans Day Celebration on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in SVSU Curtiss Hall's banquet rooms. All SVSU students, staff and faculty members are invited to the event.

Douglas Szczepanski, a retired U.S. Army sergeant and 2011 SVSU alumnus, will serve as the event's keynote speaker. The Purple Heart recipient was severely wounded by a suicide car bomb while on patrol in Baghdad in 2005. After a long recovery period, Szczepanski returned to school and founded his own nonprofit organization, Miracle Soldier Inc. Szczepanski now serves as a motivational speaker.

The Veterans Day Celebration also will feature the reading of the winning entry in a recent Veterans Day-themed essay contest as well as a performance by Encore, a registered student organization of singers, musicians and dancers.

For more information, contact SVSU's Military Student Affairs at (989) 964-2462.

November 9, 2017

SVSU students display speaking skills during Sims Public Speaking Competition

Six Saginaw Valley State University students demonstrated their proficiency in public speaking on Friday, Nov. 3 during SVSU's 28th annual Sims Public Speaking Competition. The competition allows students to hone their oral communication skills while presenting on topics of their choosing.  

First place was awarded to Zac Peterson, a first-year marketing major from Midland, for his presentation titled "Male Body Standards." The distinction earned him a $400 cash prize. 

Five other students earned accolades for their presentations during the competition:

  • Allison Milke, a communication major from Macomb, was awarded the second place $250 cash prize.
  • Jill Castle, a communication major from Standish, was awarded the third place $150 cash prize.
  • Abbey Leach, a communication major from Frankenmuth, was awarded the fourth place $100 cash prize.
  • Shafayat Alam, a management major from Bangladesh, was a finalist in the competition, earning a $75 cash prize.
  • Tiler Jewell, a creative writing major from Essexville, was also a finalist, earning a $75 cash prize.

The competition is endowed by Larry and Linda Sims, long-time supporters of SVSU. Linda currently serves as senior executive assistant to the president/executive director for communications and external affairs at SVSU; she also previously served as chair of SVSU’s Board of Control.

November 9, 2017

SVSU student paper wins first place at Michigan Sociological Association conference

A Saginaw Valley State University student’s determination in her study resulted in high praise for her academic paper. Kellie Rankey, a creative writing major and sociology minor from Saginaw, won the 2017 Student Paper Award from the Michigan Sociological Association.

Rankey presented her paper, “A Framework for Creating Positive Change: Solution for Slum Improvement through Local Empowerment,” at the association’s annual conference in Grand Rapids Saturday, Oct. 28.

Rankey's paper aimed to examine life in the Mumbai slums in order to identify common elements from successful slum redevelopment through community engagement.

“I looked at non-governmental organizations, I looked at statistics, and a history of how the slums developed and then methods that the government has been using and why those don't work," she said.

Rankey devoted many hours of research to the project, including the review of several different case studies that further examined the problem of wealth disparity and slum population increase.

“I found a few case studies of slum improvement processes that had actually worked,” she said. “They used frameworks that started from the bottom up, meaning that they involved the slum dwellers as partners in development.”

For members of the association, Rankey’s approach to addressing community improvement in Mumbai is what set her apart from other students during the conference. In focusing on the needs of the community and several examples of working solutions, Rankey's paper stood out to fellow scholars in her field.

November 9, 2017

SVSU Veterans Day Celebration set for Thursday

SVSU will host its Veterans Day Celebration on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in SVSU Curtiss Hall’s banquet rooms. Students, staff and faculty are welcomed to attend.

Douglas Szczepanski, a retired U.S. Army sergeant and 2011 SVSU alumnus, will serve as the event’s keynote speaker. The Purple Heart recipient was severely wounded by a suicide car bomb while on patrol in Baghdad in 2005. After a long recovery period, Szczepanski returned to school and founded his own nonprofit organization, Miracle Soldier Inc. Szczepanski now serves as a motivational speaker.

The Veterans Day Celebration also will feature the reading of the winning entry in a recent Veterans Day-themed essay contest as well as a performance by Encore, a registered student organization of singers, musicians and dancers.

For more information, contact SVSU’s Military Student Affairs at (989) 964-2462.

November 3, 2017

SVSU recital to spotlight vocalist’s talents

Madalyn McHugh, a music major at Saginaw Valley State University, will demonstrate her vocal talents during a recital performance Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU's Rhea Miller Recital Hall.

While the Caro native has yet to earn her bachelor's degree — she graduates in December 2017 — her résumé already features a number of performances at impressive venues.

She and her sister, Mackenzie McHugh, were the opening act for another band featuring a sibling duo. At the Bay City State Theatre in June 2017, the McHugh sisters performed original and cover songs ahead of an appearance by The Bacon Brothers, featuring actor and musician Kevin Bacon.

The experience gained and connections made at SVSU were contributing factors for Madalyn McHugh when booking such high-profile performances. "SVSU has tremendously helped me to develop a name and reputation in the area," she said. 

Before attending the university, the soprano singer was accustomed to performing exclusively contemporary and original music. At the age of 18, she was the opening act for the popular Christian music artists, The Sidewalk Prophets. McHugh had recently released her own album in the same genre and spent much of the performance showcasing her original songs.

Now — five years later — McHugh said she feels equipped to perform any type of music.

"I came to SVSU only singing contemporary and original music,” she said. “I am graduating SVSU fully confident to perform classical music, opera, musical theater, contemporary and more. My voice coach has allowed me to be the versatile performer that I have always dreamed of being."

During her Nov. 7 performance, McHugh will be accompanied by Amanda Stamper on piano. SVSU Visiting Artist in Musical Theatre Kevin Cole also will join the soprano on stage. Her vocal performance will include pieces by composers such as Richard Strauss, Mozart and Erik Satie.

Admission for the event is free. For more information, please visit svsu.edu/music or call (989) 964-4159.

November 2, 2017

SVSU Cardinal Singers to perform 10th anniversary concert

The Cardinal Singers of Saginaw Valley State University will celebrate their tenth anniversary with a concert in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall Saturday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. The concert will consist of favorite pieces sung by the choir since its founding. Alumni have also been invited to join the current Cardinal Singers for the final song of the night, “The Awakening.”

The Cardinal Singers are the chamber vocal ensemble at SVSU. The vocalists come from all over the state of Michigan, and include both music majors as well as non-majors. They sing a wide array of literature, from Josquin to vocal jazz.

In addition to campus performances, the group has been invited to sing at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and has sung with the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra and Saginaw Choral Society. They have also been an invited choir at the state conference of the American Choral Directors Association.

Founded in 2007, they are directed by Kevin Simons, SVSU associate professor of music, and accompanied by Amanda Stamper.

Many Cardinal Singers have found success in the musical world after graduating from SVSU.

Aaron Aikens is the director of bands and choirs at Unionville-Sebewaing High School; Bradley Fergin is the director of choirs at Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy; Donovan Tear is the director of bands at Bentley High School in Burton. Beyond working in K-12 schools, Jeremiah Kraniak is the artistic director of the Saginaw Choral Society, and Rachelle Austin is an instructor of voice at SVSU. Many other alumni are active across the country as teachers, conductors, players and singers.

The concert is free and open to the public.  For more information, contact the department of music at SVSU at 989-964-4159 or music@svsu.edu.

November 1, 2017

More than 400 high school students coming to SVSU for Foreign Language Day

Saginaw Valley State University will welcome more than 400 high school students from eight regional high schools during the 42nd annual Foreign Language Day at SVSU Thursday, Nov. 2.

Hosted by SVSU’s Department of Modern Foreign Languages, the day will feature students performing in various categories such as song, dance, skit/musical in various languages. The event also includes a cultural awareness contest, highlighting the importance of foreign language study for 21st century learners.

Students from eight regional high schools will be attending: Caro, John Glenn, Pinconning, Oscoda, Roscommon, Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy, Standish-Sterling, and Tawas. Teams will perform in the languages of Spanish, French and German.

The skit/musical contest is scheduled from 10 to 10:50 a.m. The song contest takes place from 10:50 to 11:40 a.m. The dance contest runs from 11:40 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. The cultural awareness contest takes place throughout the day. Contests will be held in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts and other campus locations.

October 31, 2017

SVSU recognizes outstanding alumni during annual awards ceremony

Business leaders, doctors, a dentist and a military veteran are among the eight individuals whose professional exceptionalism and community engagement were recognized during Saginaw Valley State University's annual Alumni Celebration Friday, Oct. 27.

The SVSU Alumni Association selected five individuals to receive the Distinguished Alumni award - one for each of SVSU's five academic colleges. Three other honorees received the Veteran Alumni, Young Alumni and Future Alumni awards.

From SVSU's College of Science, Engineering and Technology, Jessica Bentoski earned the Distinguished Alumna Award. Bentoski received her bachelor's degree in biology in 2004. She later received a dentistry degree from the University of Michigan's School of Dentistry. Bentoski operates Saginaw Pediatric Dentistry. She is a past recipient of the Business of the Year - New Construction Award by Saginaw Township.

From the College of Business and Management, David Kowalski received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Kowalski is the current president and owner of the family-owned Euclid Automotive Supply in Bay City. Through 15 years of work with the Cub Scouts, Kowalski received honors such as the District Award of Merit and the James E. West Fellow Award. He received his bachelor's degree from SVSU in 1979.

From the College of Arts and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Michael Langworthy received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Langworthy serves as the director of orthopedic surgery for Southcoast Health Systems in New Bedford, Massachusetts. A retired U.S. Navy captain, Langworthy served 30 years of active and reserve duty. He earned his bachelor's degree from the institution in 1984.

From the College of Education, Christopher Pryor received the Distinguished Alumnus award. The pastor of Victorious Believers Ministries Church of God in Christ in Buena Vista Township, Pryor has a passion for serving others. Prior to his pastoral work, he spent 13 years working at Pfizer Inc., a biopharmaceutical company with locations around the globe. Pryor graduated from SVSU with a bachelor's degree in management in 1995 and a master's degree in educational leadership in 2000.

From the College of Health and Human Services, Dr. Lynn Squanda-Murphy received the Distinguished Alumna Award. She is a physician for MedExpress in several Michigan locations. Squanda-Murphy graduated in 1981 from SVSU with a bachelor's degree in physical education with an emphasis in sports medicine. Those skills aided her during her time as a U.S. Army cardiac technician and medical assistant. She later attended Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, graduating in 1997.

Gretchen Evans received the Veteran Alumni Award. A retired U.S. Army command sergeant major who first enlisted in 1979, Evans served as an intelligence analyst in Heidelberg, Germany. There, she was trained as a counterintelligence agent and military spy. After serving in the Army for 27 years, she decided to resume her education. Evans graduated from SVSU in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in sociology. She is set to publish her new book, "Lessons from the Front," in November.

Marlin Jenkins received the Young Alumnus award. Jenkins, who earned a bachelor's degree in creative writing, later attended the University of Michigan's Master of Fine Arts program. He graduated in 2017. He serves as an editor for the HEArt Online literary journal, a publication committed to the promotion of social justice and the fight against discrimination. Jenkins has been published in several literary journals including The Collagist, Four Way Review, The Journal and Bennington Review, among others.

Andrew Jarmon received the Future Alumnus award. Set to graduate in December 2017 with a bachelor's degree in professional accountancy, Jarmon serves as the business manager of The Valley Vanguard, SVSU's school newspaper; co-chair of the Great Lakes Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls; and a residence assistant for SVSU's student housing operations. A graduate of L’Anse Creuse North High School in Macomb County, Jarmon interned with the Drug Enforcement Administration as part of their financial investigating team as well as with Quicken Loans, where he worked in risk management.