Hard work and dedication helped Saginaw Valley State University's forensics team experience its fifth consecutive year winning the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League season-opening tournament.
Five SVSU students qualified for a national tournament spot in April as a result of their individual performances during the team's victory Friday, Sept. 27, at Oakland Community College's Orchard Ridge campus.
Amy Pierce, an SVSU associate professor of communication serving as co-adviser for the forensics group, said a forensics-focused communication class offered at the university allowed students to prepare early in the semester for the competition.
"While most of the students in the class had no previous experience with forensics, the class introduces them to the norms and culture of competitive speaking," she said, "which sets us apart from other schools."
Friday's competition featured students competing in categories such as prose, dramatic interpretation, impromptu, and informative.
These students placed in the following categories during individual competition:
The SVSU team will compete in a Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League tournament at its own campus in December. The National Forensics Association Championship Tournament, meanwhile, will be hosted by University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in April.
Along with Pierce, the SVSU team is advised by Ryan Rigda, a lecturer of communication at the university.
Saginaw Valley State University students passionate about pursuing health care professions combined their outstanding academic preparation with exemplary community service commitment to be accepted early into medical school. They did so using a program that networks talent from SVSU to other institutions.
A record-high 10 seniors applied to various medical schools that have Early Assurance Program (EAP) agreements with SVSU. All 10 were accepted. The program allows SVSU students to apply to medical schools the summer before their senior year. Currently, SVSU has partnerships with the medical schools at Central Michigan University, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.
Heidi Lang, SVSU's pre-health professions adviser, said the 10-for-10 feat is no small accomplishment, especially considering the overall acceptance rate for medical schools in the U.S. is about 40 percent.
While SVSU has had 100 percent acceptance in the past, this is the first year 10 students applied. Usually, three or four students apply, Lang said.
“This year’s class is exceptionally strong, and I am not at all surprised to see 100 percent acceptance,” she said. “Among the 10 students, we have individuals who have volunteered and worked in local hospitals and clinics, but they have all gone a step further to truly make an impact on the community, especially serving those who are from under-served communities.”
Lang said each student who applied this year is dedicated to helping others and will succeed in their careers.
“One thing they all have in common is a genuine desire to serve others through health care,” she said. “They will be a great addition to their respective medical school classes and, perhaps more importantly, the communities where they eventually practice.”
Several of the SVSU students — including Darby Richards — cited Lang’s help as a key reason for their success.
“Heidi is a great asset to have,” said Richards, a biology major from West Branch. “She really advocates for us and gets us prepared. She does mock interviews in the fall to get us ready. I think having that preparation really helps.”
Richards performs community service through Standing in the Gap, a Christian-based student organization; she also pushes herself academically through SVSU’s Honors program. She will be the first SVSU student to attend Wayne State University under the EAP program, as the university joined the partnership this year.
“I’m really interested in working with under-served populations in lower income areas,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I was so interested in Wayne. They’re right in the heart of Detroit, and they do a lot outreach in the region with the homeless population and the low-income population.”
Cailtin Coulter will be attending CMU next fall. She also is in SVSU’s Honors program, and she is a past president of SVSU's student government, Student Association. Coulter was thankful for the opportunities afforded her by attending a university where faculty and staff know her personally.
“At a lot of schools, there’s so many people that you can get lost in the mix,” said Coulter, a biology major from Mount Morris. “Here, I think I’ve had opportunities I wouldn’t have had other places.”
Among other opportunities, Coulter works as a medical scribe at Covenant Medical Center. She said Central Michigan University College of Medicine's commitment to philanthropy was a key reason for wanting to attend the medical school there.
“My ultimate goal down the road is to serve on a nonprofit board in the community I am working in,” she said. “Their model of curriculum is based around philanthropy, as well as every year, you are required to do a service project."
Below is a list of each SVSU student accepted into medical school for 2020 under EAP agreements, organized by university.
Wayne State University School of Medicine
Darby Richards, a biology major from West Branch
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
Emily Beardsley, a biochemistry major from Bay City
Katelyn Hartupee-Malett, a biology major from Mount Pleasant
Bayley Pfau, a biology major from Bay City
Tyler Sadilek, a biology major from Chesaning
Central Michigan University College of Medicine
Caitlin Coulter, a biology major from Mount Morris
Anh (Wendy) Pham, a biology major from Bay City
Kathleen Murphy, a biochemistry major from Bay City
Garrett Richardson, a biology major from Gaylord
Aiden Van Loo, a biology major from Freeland
A group of third grade students from Bay City will drive a few miles from their school to take a tour of the world.
Saginaw Valley State University's English Language Program will host its Passport to the World event Friday, Oct. 4. Nearly 100 third grade students from Kolb Elementary School in Bay City will visit campus, where they will learn about different countries and cultures through a series of performances and activities organized by SVSU staff and students.
The day-long event begins with cultural performances hosted by SVSU international students.
SVSU staff and students later will read the book, “Same, Same But Different" by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw, to the children. The children's book follows the relationship between two pen pals on opposite sides of the globe.
The day of international exploration also includes yoga sessions led by SVSU students, a tour of the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum on campus, and clay-sculpting activities.
The third grade attendees will then have the opportunity to "visit" 13 different countries at educational tables staffed by international students with information about other cultures. During the event, the visitors will learn about Japan, Vietnam, Panama, Taiwan, China, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, India, Armenia, Italy, Peru, Rwanda, and Guatemala.
For more information on Passport to the World, contact Amy Cook, assistant director of SVSU’s English Language Program, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (989) 964-2733.
Saginaw Valley State University leaders determined to engage more students in casting their votes during the 2018 election helped those students find their voice, a new study shows.
A September report by The Institute for Democracy & Higher Education — housed at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life — shows the percentage of SVSU students voting doubled during the 2018 election compared to the 2014 election, from 18.4% to 36.8% last year. An upward trend in election participation was experienced at higher education institutions across the nation, the report showed.
“I was really excited to see a spike at the university level and nationwide,” said Riley Hupfer, director of SVSU’s Center for Community Engagement. “It represents a strong commitment by our university and youth in our country to be part of the voting process.”
SVSU’s Center for Community Engagement — supported by student Democracy Fellows with the university’s Cardinals Vote initiative, a nonpartisan effort dedicated to connecting SVSU students with opportunities to engage in the democratic system — organized a number of voter registration drives leading up to November 2018, Hupfer said.
Cardinals Vote involved co-sponsoring Secretary of State mobile unit appearances on campus, advocating for registration at campus events, and recruiting other student groups and community members to advocate for voter registration.
Hupfer said more than 500 students registered to vote as a direct result of Cardinals Vote, but it’s likely the number was higher.
The Institute for Democracy & Higher Education reported other positive trends at SVSU. The study indicated the voter registration rate for SVSU students increased from 60% in 2014 to 67.1% in 2018; and the voting rate of registered students climbed from 30.6% to 54.8% during the same span.
“We’re not done,” Hupfer said of the program’s plans for the 2020 election. “We want to exceed what we did in 2018.”
SVSU was one of more than 1,000 higher education institutions to participate in The Institute for Democracy & Higher Education’s report, titled the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE).
The national NSLVE report can be read online at https://idhe.tufts.edu/2018data.
A retired Major League Baseball manager and Midland native will return to the region next month to talk about his passion for leadership during a presentation at Saginaw Valley State University.
Audiences can meet Terry Collins — who led the New York Mets to the World Series in 2015 — during his presentation Monday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. in SVSU’s Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. The event will be moderated by Paul Barbeau, former president and general manager of the Great Lakes Loons. Admission is free and open to the public.
Collins will be looking back at his lengthy baseball career while discussing the leadership skills and determination that helped him perform at the highest levels of athletics.
After growing up in Midland, where he attended Midland High School before graduating in 1967, Collins spent his collegiate playing days at Eastern Michigan University. There, he was a star on the school’s baseball team, playing shortstop and second baseman. He later was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates and spent 10 years in the Minor Leagues with the Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers.
After his professional playing career was finished, he transitioned to coaching teams. His first manager job in Major League Baseball came in 1993 when he was hired by the Houston Astros. He also was manager of the Anaheim Angels from 1997-99 before spending times overseas, leading teams in Japan and China.
He returned to the MLB in 2010, and was hired as the New York Mets manager that November. In 2015, during a 90-win season, he led the team to the World Series before falling to the Kansas City Royals. Two years later, he retired from the position, leaving as the longest-tenured manager in Mets history. He remains with the franchise today as a senior advisor for player personnel.
Collins’ appearance at SVSU is sponsored by SVSU's Foundation office.
Saginaw Valley State University saw an overall enrollment decline for the 2019 fall semester, but it enrolled a much larger freshman class than 2016 or 2017, after increasing the number of first-time students by 28% last year.
SVSU welcomed 1,470 incoming freshmen this fall, a 19.5% increase over the 1,230 new students in fall 2017, though down from last year’s freshman class of 1,576.
“Last year’s freshman class far exceeded our most optimistic projections, and we knew it would be difficult to match that total, particularly as the number of high school graduates in Michigan continues to decline,” said Deborah Huntley, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “Our Admissions staff, along with faculty and staff across the university, worked hard to make connections with students and show them the value of an SVSU degree, so we are pleased with our student recruitment efforts for the incoming class.”
Overall, SVSU has 8,265 students taking classes for the 2019 fall semester, down from 8,535 last year.
Institutional efforts to diversify the international student population paid dividends, as SVSU welcomed new students from 32 separate countries this fall. In all, 427 international students are taking classes, representing 43 countries overall.
“A few years ago, the lion’s share of our international students came from just two countries, China and Saudi Arabia,” Huntley said. “We have expanded outreach in Africa and in parts of Asia, and we’re seeing more students from those areas, as a result.”
SVSU’s housing, ranked No. 4 overall and No. 1 in the nation among public universities, continues to attract students, as 71% of the freshman class is living on campus.
The academic preparedness of the 2018 freshman class mirrors recent years with an average high school GPA of 3.4.
Fall classes at SVSU began Monday, Aug. 26.
Saginaw Valley State University’s welcoming campus atmosphere and empowering environment has resulted in the institution's designation as a "Great College to Work For" for the fourth consecutive year.
SVSU was one of 84 higher education institutions named to the list released online and to appear in a special insert in The Chronicle for Higher Education Friday, Sept. 20. The Great Colleges to Work For program was co-founded in 2008 as a partnership between The Chronicle of Higher Education and ModernThink, a strategic human capital consulting firm. The program was funded this year by ModernThink, which shared the results in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
“Here at SVSU, we are dedicated to providing first-rate resources to our dedicated faculty and staff,” said SVSU President Donald J. Bachand. “This results in a culture of professional growth and personal satisfaction that strengthens the opportunities we provide our students and community partners. I am proud of this campus-wide commitment to excellence and pleased to see our university continues its reputation as a ‘Great College to Work For.’”
SVSU was the only public university in Michigan recognized as a "Great College to Work For" in 2019. The university – which employs about 750 people full time – has made the list each of the four years it applied.
Each institution on the list is recognized in specific categories. SVSU was honored in the same four categories for the third consecutive year: compensation and benefits; facilities, workspace and security; teaching environment; and tenure clarity and process. The university was also recognized for the first time in a new category: collaborative governance.
The list was determined based on a survey of 236 higher education institutions as well as analysis of demographic data and workplace policy. The survey – distributed earlier this year to staff and faculty members online – examines individuals’ evaluations of their respective institution.
“The institutions recognized in this year's Great Colleges to Work For program don't wait for problems to occur to pay attention to their people,” said Richard K. Boyer, managing partner at ModernThink. “Conversely, they're intentional in being good stewards of their institutions’ cultures and shaping the day-to-day experience of their faculty and staff to the ultimate benefit of their students.”
For more information about “Great Colleges to Work For,” visit www.GreatCollegesProgram.com.
James Harder knows the benefits of hard work and perseverance. The 2019 Saginaw Valley State University mechanical engineering alumnus started college when he was just 14 years old. While being homeschooled, the Saginaw native took college classes for two years through the Great Lakes Bay Early College program at SVSU to get ahead and discover what he wanted to study.
After taking a third year to explore his options, Harder found his passion for engineering and decided to return to college full-time. However, since he was homeschooled, several universities denied him admission and scholarship opportunities.
SVSU welcomed him. The university recognized his value and sought him out to return as a student, even offering him the President’s Scholarship. The way that SVSU supported and empowered Harder made his decision simple, he said.
“I really appreciated the way they treated me as an individual person and not a number,” Harder said. “I came here with no reservations.”
When Harder returned to SVSU, he was initially overwhelmed with the transition he faced. His parents had moved out of the country for work, and he didn’t have much of a support system close by. SVSU staff and faculty soon stepped in to provide him with mentorship and guidance, and to ensure that he knew he wasn’t alone. Whenever he had questions or concerns, staff and faculty went out of their way to help him succeed, he said.
“I really valued that the engineering faculty were inviting students to come ask questions. They had open doors and were always inviting. When you went and asked them questions, they were glad you did,” Harder said.
Harder was determined to challenge himself and make the most of every opportunity he had to excel. When he decided he wanted to complete his degree in two and a half years, his supporters at SVSU rallied around him to help him achieve this difficult objective.
In addition to his accelerated course load, Harder also pushed himself to advance his hands-on experience with a multi-year co-op at Nexteer Automotive in nearby Buena Vista Township. In order to fit all his ambitions into his already full schedule, Harder would work from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Nexteer before coming back to SVSU to take his classes. The support he received from SVSU while managing this heavy workload was invaluable, he said.
“SVSU was there if I wanted to take opportunities like co-ops, taking extra classes, and finishing my degree quickly,” Harder said. “They were there to back me up when I wanted to challenge myself.”
Harder continued to push himself to defy limits and discovered his passion for startups while completing his senior design project. He collaborated with Nexteer to develop an electric power steering motor frame for a home gym. The opportunity to apply this innovative mentality and build something new led him to his next ambitious endeavor.
Harder decided to push himself further and study abroad for his final year. The staff at SVSU were dedicated to making this dream a reality, helping Harder earn a scholarship to study industrial design at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.
His drive to study internationally and to apply himself to innovative initiatives earned him his current position— working at the cutting-edge start-up, Halter, in New Zealand.
Harder has worked at the company for three months, utilizing his mechanical and electrical engineering expertise to design innovative technology that aims to transform the farming industry. He is currently working with his team to develop a solar powered collar for cows that allows farmers to track and monitor their herd remotely.
Harder’s drive to overcome challenges and his determination to follow his passions led him to start his career in a part of the world he had always dreamed of visiting. Even half a world away, Harder still remains in contact with SVSU and the people that helped him along the way, and he is grateful for all of the unique opportunities he had at SVSU that helped get him to where he is.
“Any opportunity that you get to do something extra, no matter how difficult it seems, take those difficult opportunities,” Harder said. “Work hard and when you find what you love, put in everything you have and you will be rewarded.”
A Latina aviator whose career broke sound and gender barriers will visit Saginaw Valley State University next month.
As part of the university's celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Lt. Col. Olga Custodio will discuss her journey as the first female Hispanic United States Air Force pilot during a public presentation Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 6 p.m., in SVSU's Founders Hall. Admission is free and open to the public.
Her talk, “A Night with Olga Custodio,” also will detail her experience as the first Hispanic female commercial airline captain and examine the challenges she faced rising in ranks of a male-dominated profession.
Custodio‘s father served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army. Custodio's family traveled with him to different military camps around the world including Taiwan, Iran, Paraguay, and the U.S. They settled in Puerto Rico when Custodio was 15 years old. After graduating high school, she applied to the University of Puerto Rico's ROTC program but was denied because only men were admitted to the program.
In 1980, Custodio entered the Flight Screening Pilot Officer Training School and went on to graduate from the Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas. She was the first Hispanic female to complete Air Force military pilot training in the U.S.
In 1988, American Airlines hired her as a commercial pilot, making her the first Latina to become a captain.
Custodio retired in 2003 to San Antonio. She now is an active charter member of the Women Military Aviators Association, the Women in Aviation International, as well as The Order of Daedalians. These organizations encourage youth from the San Antonio area to seek civilian and military aviation careers.
Her appearance at SVSU is sponsored by the university's Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and Military Student Affairs, as well as the student organizations, Latino Awareness Association, and Female Empowerment and Multicultural Education.
Custodio's appearance is part of SVSU's annual Visiting Scholars and Artists speaker series. She will serve as a Dow Visiting Scholar during her visit.
For more information about the Visiting Scholars and Artists program, visit svsu.edu/publiclectures.
A Saginaw Valley State University educator’s determination to fight the opioid epidemic in rural Michigan will be the focus of a public presentation at the campus next month.
Kathleen Schachman’s talk, titled “High-Tech, High-Touch Solutions to the Opioid Crisis in Rural Michigan,” is scheduled Thursday, Oct. 3, at 4 p.m., in SVSU’s Founders Hall. Admission is free and open to the public.
Schachman, SVSU's Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Chair of Nursing, will discuss how her work at the university — where she has helped merge health care delivery with educational opportunities for students and practicing nurses alike — has brought her face-to-face with one of the region’s deadliest health crises.
After a career spent as a primary care nurse practitioner across the U.S. and overseas, Schachman joined SVSU in 2014. The following year, she helped oversee SVSU’s partnership with the Bay County Health Department as the two organizations opened a nurse practitioner-led primary care health clinic in downtown Bay City now known as Bay Community Health Clinic. Staffing the site are university faculty as well as students from SVSU and other higher education institutions, from the disciplines of nursing, social work, occupational therapy, and pharmacy.
Almost immediately upon opening, the health clinic began tending to patients reporting dangerous addictions to opioids such as heroin, fentanyl and other powerful pain-killing drugs. Staff members have expanded their services after implementing telehealth components to the office, allowing them to treat and interact regularly with rural community residents sometimes deterred from seeking health care because of their distance from far-off treatment facilities. What the staff and Schachman discovered upon utilizing the telehealth approach was a largely untreated population also suffering from opioid use.
Schachman continues to add reinforcements to the struggle against the epidemic. Earlier this year, she helped SVSU secure a $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health's Health Resources and Services Administration. Over the course of four years, the funds will allow 100 nurse practitioners to enroll in SVSU’s psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner post-graduate certificate program. Once certified, those nurses will be trained to combat the opioid epidemic — and other mental health care conditions — in those rural communities.
Schachman’s presentation is part of SVSU's annual Visiting Scholars and Artists programs. Her appearance will serve as SVSU’s annual Thomas and Hilda Rush Distinguished Lecture.
For more information about the Visiting Scholars and Artists speaker series, visit www.svsu.edu/publiclectures.