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June 17, 2019

After earning Miss Michigan crown, SVSU graduate student eyes national stage

For Mallory Rivard, winning the 2019 Miss Michigan title Saturday was a triumph of grit and the culmination of a lifetime of hard work dedicated to serving her community.

 

While the Saginaw Valley State University alumna and graduate student is enjoying the crown secured at the June 15 pageant, her work is far from finished, she said. Rivard is readying for a year representing the state while preparing for an approaching competition that could lead to her representing a much, much larger community. As Miss Michigan, she will be one of 50 women vying for the 2020 Miss America title later this year.

 

“I will definitely be living my life to the fullest after this,” Rivard said. “It’s already been a whirlwind since Saturday, so I’ve been trying to soak in all of this experience. It’s all so exciting.”

 

The Miss Michigan title is one of several dreams-come-true for Rivard in recent years. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and childhood education from SVSU in 2017, she began work as a teacher for Bay City Public Schools. Today, she enjoys educating first-grade students at MacGregor Elementary School in her hometown of Bay City.

 

“I’ve known I wanted to be a teacher ever since the third grade,” said Rivard, now pursuing a master’s degree in early childhood education at SVSU. “I’m really passionate about educating young people.”

 

She applied that passion for education to her pageant platform campaign, which focused on promoting reading to children. As Miss Michigan, Rivard plans to visit classrooms across the state and speak to parents on how best to improve childhood literacy.

 

“The earlier we introduce kids to the joys of reading, the more they will flourish and succeed,” she said.

 

Rivard understands the power of childhood influences. She participated in her first pageant — the Miss Bay County Princess competition — at the age of five, when her on-stage talent involved dancing to “Cotton Eye Joe.”

 

“I remember meeting Miss Bay County there,” said Rivard, now 24. “I thought to myself, ‘I want to do that.’”

 

And she did. Rivard was crowned Miss Bay County in 2015. It was one of seven consecutive local or regional pageants she earned on her way to advancing to the Miss Michigan competition, hosted each year in Muskegon. This year, she competed there as Miss Great Lakes Bay.

 

Rivard nearly received the Miss Michigan crown a number of times before this year, finishing as the first runner-up in both 2017 and 2018. As first runner-up, Rivard earned $5,000 scholarships both years from the Miss Michigan organization. As the competition’s victor this year, she will receive $12,000 in scholarship support for her college education.

 

An even larger victory could be ahead. The Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant is affiliated with the Miss America Organization. Rivard will compete for the national title along with the women representing the other 49 states. The event's date and venue have not yet been announced.

 

“I’ve dreamed of this moment for so long,” she said. “I’m very thankful for all the people who have supported me through the years: Family, friends, people at SVSU. I couldn’t be more grateful or more blessed.”

June 14, 2019

SVSU’s Stec named Michigan's Career Services Professional of the Year

Bill Stec is dedicated to serving students, alumni and employers as the interim director of Career Services at Saginaw Valley State University. His exceptional dedication and work ethic has earned him a statewide honor.

Stec was selected as the 2018-2019 Career Services Professional of the Year at the Michigan Career Educator and Employer Alliance. The award was announced at the group’s annual conference in Kalamazoo Thursday, June 13.

Stec said the award shows the impact Career Services makes on SVSU students and alumni.

“We want our students to succeed,” Stec said. “We are going above and beyond to make sure we can give our students these opportunities and this award represents the return on investment that we are putting in for our students.”

The Michigan Career Educator and Employer Alliance's mission is to promote career potential within Michigan through relationships among employers, colleges and universities. The group includes public and private universities, colleges and community colleges across the state. Each year, the alliance presents its Employer of the Year Award, Don Hunt Service Award, and Career Services Professional Award. This is the first time SVSU has been awarded.

Stec joined the SVSU Career Services office in 2014 and has demonstrated a passion and dedication to building partnerships with employers and changing the lives of students and alumni. He has served as interim director for nearly a year since Mike Major, director, who serves in the U.S. Navy Reserves, was asked to teach at the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland.

Stec hopes his individual honor will encourage students, alumni and employers to further utilize opportunities through SVSU Career Services.

“Even if you know the direction you want to take or unsure of that direction, we can help at any level,” said Stec. “The world is there for you, you just have to figure out the passion. We can place you and introduce you to the people we know all over.”

Stec served as the Michigan Career Educator and Employer Alliance conference co-chair in 2016, and is a past president of the executive board. He completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees at SVSU.

June 13, 2019

SVSU, Dow Library, Dow Home & Studio partner to bring Michigan authors to Midland for writing workshops, public readings

Saginaw Valley State University’s Center for Community Writing – in partnership with the Grace A. Dow Library and the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio – invites the public to a week-long series featuring critically acclaimed Michigan writers this July in Midland.

The Michigan Authors’ Workshop Series will showcase the talents of Michigan writers and support the writing of prospective authors in the region. Eight authors from the state will be in attendance to discuss and read their work, and many of these writers will be teaching community writing workshops for writers of all ages.

“Because one of the goals of the Center for Community Writing is to support writing across the Great Lakes Bay Region, we are excited to bring such a diverse group of gifted Michigan authors to the city of Midland to share their work and their talents with our larger community,” said Helen Raica-Klotz, the co-director of the Center for Community Writing at SVSU.

“And, of course, we feel fortunate to be able to collaborate with the library and the Home and Studio, as both organizations are such strong supporters of the arts and education.”

Among the authors involved in The Michigan Authors' Workshop Series are Newberry Book Award winner Gary Schmidt, author of “Orbiting Jupiter;” Jim Ottaviani, who wrote “The Imitation Game;” and Michael Zadoorian, author of “The Leisure Seeker,” now a film starring Helen Mirren.

Raica-Klotz encouraged community members to attend the keynote address featuring Anne-Marie Oomen, winner of multiple Michigan Notable Book Awards, along with the other evening readings and book signings held throughout the week. All these events are free and open to the public.

The writing workshops held during the week are designed for writers of various ages: Lynne Rae Perkins will be leading a drawing and writing workshop for fourth and fifth graders. Gary Schmidt will be leading a workshop for sixth through eighth graders. Patrick Flores Scott will be leading a workshop for high school students, and Mardi Link and Jack Ridl will be leading adult workshops in memoir and poetry writing.

“All of the writing workshops will focus on generating writing with professional writers who also have a reputation of being skilled and thoughtful teachers,” Raica-Klotz said.

These workshops cost between $10 to $25 per person. Detailed workshop descriptions, along with the online registration, are available at svsu.edu/ccw/miauthors.

The week's free activities – which include the keynote address, author readings and book signings – are as follows:

  • Monday, July 22, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Central Auditorium, 305 East Reardon: Anne-Marie Oomen, author of "The Lake Michigan Mermaid," will provide a keynote address.
  • Tuesday, July 23; 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Midland Center for the Arts Saints and Sinners Lounge, 1801 W. St. Andrews: Patrick Flores Scott and Gary Schmidt will present author readings and host book signings.
  • Wednesday, July 24, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Midland Center for the Arts Saints and Sinners Lounge, 1801 W. St. Andrews: Mardi Link and Michael Zadoorian will present author readings and host book signings.
  • Thursday, July 25, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Midland Center for the Arts Founders Room, 1801 W. St. Andrews: Jack Ridl and Jim Ottaviani will present author readings and host book signings.
  • Friday, July 26, noon to 12:30 p.m. at the Grace A. Dow Library story room, 1710 W. St. Andrews: Lynne Rae Perkins will host a book signing.

For more information, contact Raica-Klotz at 989.964.6062.

June 7, 2019

SVSU STEM program inspires computer coding curriculum in Freeland schools

More than 1,000 students in the Freeland Community School District were inspired to learn about computer coding – and the power of scientific persistence – thanks to a teacher's participation in a Saginaw Valley State University-hosted program aimed at enriching STEM education regionally.

Jessi Koehler, who teaches STEM curriculum in the Freeland Community School District, was a member of the latest group of K-12 teachers participating in the Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership. The professional development program equips educators with training and resources to generate interest in the sciences among the region's youth.

Thanks in part to her participation in the initiative, Koehler created an academic program this school year that engaged students across the district in computer coding science and robotics, impacting youths from grades 1 to 6.

“In their eyes, they were playing with robots, so they loved it,” said Koehler, now in her 18th year as an educator. “You could tell, as the year went on, they began to see the robots as tools - and not just the toys they initially believed them to be. They still get pretty excited when the robots come out.”

The program, which she called "Bringing Coding To Life," tasked students with programming computer codes to command robots designed for such educational endeavors.

Many of the students used online resources such as the website code.org to engage in the coding experience, she said. They applied their learning to program command codes into robots purchased using Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership resources. Younger students utilized Blue-Bot robots while their older peers worked with Dash and Dot robots.

“The basis of the project was to see if students working on coding would begin to show more of a growth mindset toward problem-solving throughout the school,” Koehler said.

“We began talking about using a growth mindset in the lower grades by reading picture books with characters that never give up, even when it appears as if they failed. Older grades talked about famous fails in history by successful people.”

Koehler said that, after conversations with fellow teachers who shared students exposed to her computer coding curriculum, the program appeared to have an influence even outside of STEM-related studies.

“Almost all of the teachers said that they saw students using more of a growth mindset in the general education classrooms as well,” she said. “That they are able to carry it over to a different environment shows me that it has made an impact on the students."

Koehler was among 20 Great Lakes Bay Region K-12 educators selected to participate in the 2018-19 Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership. Each year, a new class of 20 participants is selected. The initiative begins with a two-week, summertime professional development program housed at SVSU. Koehler and her peers partnered with SVSU faculty and staff to develop strategies for improving STEM education in the region.

“Bringing Coding To Life” was influenced heavily by that experience, Koehler said.

“I really like the ability to share ideas and talk to other like-minded teachers,” she said. “It is great to be able to network with others.”

The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership was established in 2013. For more information about the program, go to www.svsu.edu/dowcorningfoundationfellows.

June 7, 2019

SVSU program inspires teacher to engineer biodiesel assignment for Millington High students

Empowered by a Saginaw Valley State University program aimed at enriching STEM education regionally, a Millington High School teacher gave his students a taste of life as an engineer during a project that spanned the 2018-19 academic year.

Mark Ratza was an enthusiastic member of the latest group of K-12 teachers participating in the Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership, a professional development program that equips educators with training and resources to generate interest in the sciences among the region's youth.

Ratza said the program led him to task 25 students in his 10th, 11th and 12th grade Principles of Engineering classes to spend the 2018-19 academic year building a biodiesel processor. The effort, he said, exposed the teenagers to many different engineering-based sciences and their associated professions.

“At the beginning of the project, many students could only list the work done by one or two types of engineers,” he said. “By the end, most could tell the type of work done by five or six engineers. They now understand the collaboration that takes place between engineers such as mechanical, manufacturing and industrial design.”

Along with building the processor, Ratza's students also collected waste vegetable oil and created biodiesel fuel.

“My goal was to expose students to engineering as a viable career option and help them understand the role of different engineers in the development of a project,” he said.

For Ratza, the project began even before he was selected as a member of the Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership 2018-19 class. His passion for STEM began when he was a K-12 student. While attending Davison High School, a chemistry teacher piqued his interest in the sciences. “I remember having a lot of fun in the class and enjoying all of the labs and demonstrations,” he said.

His professional life began in biochemistry research. “I found the work interesting, but lonely and independent,” he said.

Remembering a positive experience helping others understand STEM while serving as a teacher's assistant during his undergraduate years, Ratza decided to pursue a career in teaching. His first job as an educator arrived in 1989 at Adrian Public Schools before he moved to Beaverton Rural Schools. He next joined Millington Community Schools, where he has worked for 28 of his 30 years in the education industry.

After two of his school district colleagues raved about their experience in the Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership initiative, Ratza applied to participate last year. The opportunity began with a two-week professional development program on SVSU's campus. Ratza and his peers partnered with SVSU faculty and staff as well as Dow Corning representatives to develop strategies for improving STEM education in the region. Aside from inspiring the biodiesel fuel project, the program was valuable for educating Ratza on tips for seeking and securing grants for similar school projects, he said.

The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership was established in 2013. For more information about the program, go to www.svsu.edu/dowcorningfoundationfellows.

June 5, 2019

SVSU community remembers life and legacy of former President Jack Ryder

Family, friends and colleagues recalled how former Saginaw Valley State University President Jack M. Ryder used grit and determination to mold an institution that stands stronger today because of his hard work during a ceremony honoring the late president. Ryder, who led the institution from 1974-89, died in April at the age of 90.

In a tribute to Ryder that filled SVSU’s Founders Hall Tuesday, June 4, attendees listened to stories about the former president's tireless efforts to seek support both for developing outstanding academic programs and for funding many of the buildings that form the campus' structural backbone today.

Among former colleagues who paid tribute was current SVSU President Donald Bachand, who began his career at SVSU as a criminal justice professor when Ryder served as president. Bachand said Ryder's commitment in the 1970s and ’80s to developing strong academic programs by hiring top-talent faculty continues to impact the university in 2019. Under Ryder's guidance, SVSU added highly-regarded academic programs in engineering and nursing, among others.

"I couldn't imagine what this institution would look like today if we hadn't created those programs back then," Bachand said. "He brought everyone into this dream for a stronger campus; a better community. He was a man of great vision, character and kindness - and he was a great friend to me."

Robert Yien, a retired SVSU administrator who served alongside Ryder, recalled how his former colleague was determined to change the name of Saginaw Valley College to Saginaw Valley State College in 1974 because of the frequent public confusion with nearby Delta College at that time. In 1987, Ryder went a step further in strengthening SVSU's identity as a baccalaureate institution when he mobilized several state colleges in a successful campaign to become known as state universities.

“I learned a lot from him,” Yien said. “I learned how to be a dreamer, a risk-taker, a gentleman and how to get things done.”

Under Ryder's leadership, a number of buildings were constructed that remain part of SVSU's central campus. During his first years as president, Ryder's administration struggled to secure funding from state politicians for those structures.

Eugene Hamilton, a retired SVSU administrator who worked with Ryder, recalled how the former president's determined efforts - despite several failed meetings with seemingly inconvincible legislators - eventually swayed Lansing to support the projects.

“He was a man of true grit,” Hamilton said. “Jack M. Ryder was wise, humble, considerate, relentless and persevering. His legacy is clearly evidenced at this university.”

Among the buildings erected during his presidency were Pioneer Hall, Brown Hall, Zahnow Library, the Arbury Fine Arts Center, the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum and the athletics facility named after him, the Ryder Center.

Ryder spent his last years living in North Carolina with his wife, Lila, who attended Tuesday's ceremony. Her son – Ryder's stepson – told those in attendance how the former president continued to advocate for higher education in his later years. Ryder sought support for an initiative that would allow students to exchange time spent performing public services for tuition savings.

“He wanted to figure out a way to get education to more people,” said Thomas Owens, Ryder's stepson. “This was what he was thinking about until his last day.”

Tuesday's memorial was captured on video. To watch the 40-minute ceremony, visit:

https://youtu.be/DXvKZls_5MA

June 4, 2019

SVSU students to 'Battle' support to support teens with The ROCK Center for Youth Development

Saginaw Valley State University students inspired to continue supporting community-engaged nonprofits today selected a Midland-based organization to serve as the beneficiary of a week-long annual fundraising tradition in October.

Enthusiastic student leaders organizing SVSU's Battle of The Valley – formerly known as Battle of the Valleys – selected The ROCK Center for Youth Development as the tradition's next benefactor during a live online announcement Monday, June 3. (Video link: https://bit.ly/2IlzVrg)

The center provides after-school programs and community-based activities for middle and high school students in Bay, Midland, Isabella and Saginaw counties.

Nora Lipetzky, one of the student leaders involved in the selection, said the nonprofit's focus on engaging and empowering teens heavily influenced her decision.

“It is my hope that our partnership this year with The ROCK will help shift a focus on investing in our youth” said Lipetzky, a native of Palos Heights, Illinois who earned a bachelor's degree in political science in May and is pursuing a master's degree in public administration.

“The youth are the future of the world we live in, and by providing positive activities and programs to students in the Great Lakes Bay Region – just like The ROCK has for so many years – we are investing in the futures and well-beings of our young people.”

The ROCK Center for Youth Development's activities include summer camps, opportunities to connect with mentors, pool parties, experiential learning initiatives and a variety of social events aimed at connecting the region's youth to the community while also promoting a healthy lifestyle.

“These activities provide alternative avenues for teens, rather than engaging in harmful and detrimental activities,” said Lipetzky, who serves as speaker of the house for SVSU's student government, known as Student Association.

Lipetzky and her Student Association peers picked The ROCK Center for Youth Development from among 56 regional nonprofit organizations whose representatives applied for Battle of the Valley.

Teresa Gwizdala, director of programs at The ROCK, said she was honored her organization was selected from such a large pool of applicants.

“We were so excited to hear the news,” she said. “It's a great thing to forge this kind of connection with SVSU.”

Beyond receiving the proceeds, the relationship is valuable because of the network it will strengthen between The ROCK's teenage participants and the SVSU community, she said.

“We are trying to promote college attainment among our kids,” Gwizdala said. “Partnering with a university can help with that.”

The age group for much of The ROCK's staff is about the age of the typical college undergraduate. Because of those demographic similarities, Gwizdala said she anticipates – and hopes – the Battle of the Valley experience also will lead to SVSU students establishing mentor relationships with The ROCK's teens.

“There are so many benefits to this,” Gwizdala said of her organization becoming this year's charity partner.

Many nonprofit organizations have reaped the benefits of SVSU students’ commitment to improving their community. SVSU students have raised $425,657 for organizations since the first Battle of the Valleys in 2003. Last year, they collected $36,000 for the Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network.

When students host Battle of the Valley during the week spanning Oct. 6-11, the event will take on a slightly different form than in the past. The tradition began as a fundraising competition involving Grand Valley State University. Through last year, the institutions combined to raise $652,385 for nonprofits and organizations. But GVSU student leaders withdrew from their role in March.

SVSU students - passionate about philanthropy - acted quickly to keep the tradition alive despite the absence of a partnering university. Now the fundraising will be championed exclusively by SVSU students. Student Association representatives, though, say they hope to identify a partnering university in time to reinsert the tradition's competitive elements for the 2020 fundraiser.

For more information about The ROCK Center for Youth Development, go to therockc4yd.org.

For more information about Battle of the Valley, go to svsu.edu/battleofthevalleys.

May 31, 2019

SVSU community to remember its second president, Jack Ryder

Friends, family and former colleagues will pay tribute to the late Jack Ryder, Saginaw Valley State University's president from 1974-89, during a memorial service on campus Tuesday, June 4.

Ryder, who died in April at the age of 90, helped establish SVSU's value academically and culturally to the region during some the institution's most formative years.

The June 4 service is scheduled at 3 p.m. in SVSU's Founders Hall, and a reception will follow inside the university's Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum. The ceremony will feature tributes from Donald Bachand, SVSU's current president; as well as Eugene Hamilton and Robert Yien, who each served in leadership roles during Ryder's administration before they retired. SVSU’s Cardinal Singers vocal ensemble will perform at the ceremony.

The SVSU Board of Control appointed Ryder as SVSU's second president on Oct. 17, 1974. He came to SVSU from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis where he served as vice chancellor and dean for administrative affairs. When he arrived as president, he noted that many people mistakenly perceived SVSU – then Saginaw Valley College – as a junior college, in part because the institution was founded a decade earlier by many individuals once associated with nearby Delta College. During Ryder's 15 years as president, he worked tirelessly to create a strong identity for SVSU as a baccalaureate institution. Many considered him successful in that mission.

Under Ryder's guidance, SVSU grew substantially in terms of campus size, student enrollment and academic stature, adding highly regarded programs in engineering and nursing, among others. The evolving name of the institution also was a product of Ryder's effort to change public perception. Shortly after his arrival, the school changed its name to Saginaw Valley State College, and in 1987 became Saginaw Valley State University.

Under his leadership, SVSU constructed many of the buildings that form the campus' structural backbone today. Among the buildings erected during his presidency were Pioneer Hall, Brown Hall, Zahnow Library, the Arbury Fine Arts Center, the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum and the athletics facility named after him, the Ryder Center.

Enrollment more than doubled during his tenure. In 1974, 2,638 students were enrolled at SVSU. During his final academic year in office, 5,915 students took classes at the university.

Ryder retired in May 1989 and spent his later years in North Carolina with his wife, Lila, who survives him. He was a frequent guest at SVSU over the years. Visiting with his wife during SVSU's 50th anniversary ceremony in 2013, Ryder spoke fondly about his time as president.

“Our experience with all of you has enriched our lives immeasurably,” he told a room of former colleagues and friends during that visit. “Just as Lila and I love the United States of America as the greatest nation the world has ever seen, we love Saginaw Valley State University for all it has been and for all it will become in service of this state, our nation and the world.”

The full text of Ryder’s remarks at SVSU’s 50th anniversary celebration in November 2013 can be found at www.svsu.edu/50/historyofsvsu/ryderera/

Or watch the video of Ryder's visit here: https://youtu.be/16VCLsZCORc?t=1626

May 30, 2019

Beaumont Health selects grad of SVSU master’s program for prestigious fellowship

A two-time alumnus and former staff member of Saginaw Valley State University will pursue his passion for providing leadership in the health care industry after earning a spot in a prestigious program at Beaumont Health centers in southeast Michigan.

Brandon Fjerstad was one of a select few chosen from a highly-competitive field of candidates from across the nation to participate in the health care system's two-year Administrative Fellowship program. The initiative pairs individuals with senior-level Beaumont Health administrators eager to mentor the next generation of health care leaders.

“I was ecstatic. Blown away,” Fjerstad said about learning of his selection. “It's a coveted fellowship with many qualified candidates applying. To know I made it through those tiers of selection, it was humbling.”

Fjerstad began his fellowship earlier this month. He was paired with Dr. James Lynch, the interim president for Beaumont Health's Troy and Grosse Pointe acute care campuses. Over the next 24 months, Fjerstad will participate in executive-level meetings, present to leadership, and participate in initiatives that will involve data analysis, business planning, and project-based work involving staff at all levels of Beaumont Health.

Marilyn Skrocki, SVSU professor of health sciences and a mentor to Fjerstad, called the fellowship “a pinnacle” opportunity for an individual at Fjerstad's current stage in his health administration career.

“This is an opportunity you dream of,” Skrocki said. “Having the opportunity to work side-by-side with administrators will allow an unparalleled mentorship.”

Fjerstad's journey to the fellowship predates his two degrees earned at SVSU and his most recent roles as the university's Human Performance Lab coordinator as well as an adjunct instructor in  the Department of Kinesiology. A Hemlock native, his interest in the health care industry began more than a decade ago when he became a patient rehabilitating from a fractured femur and collarbone sustained while playing linebacker for Hemlock High School's football team.

“That experience gave me an appreciation for how health care can positively impact someone's life,” he said of his experience working with physical therapists and personal trainers while recovering from the injuries.

After graduating in 2009, Fjerstad enrolled at SVSU, where he played two years on the football team while eyeing a career in rehabilitative therapies. He earned a bachelor's degree in exercise science from the university in 2014, and after realizing his passion for leading projects related to health care initiatives, he pursued and added a master's degree in health administration and leadership to his résumé last year. He also recently earned the Healthcare Financial Management Association's Certified Healthcare Financial Professional Certification.

While Skrocki was impressed with Fjerstad's selection to Beaumont Health's Administrative Fellowship, she was not surprised by it based on his remarkable early career accomplishments and his engaging personality.

“What likely impressed Beaumont was his professional demeanor and obvious strong emotional intelligence,” she said. “Brandon is the type of student all professors would be proud of. I certainly am.”

Fjerstad, who recently moved to Sterling Heights because of his fellowship opportunity, said he will continue teaching online courses at SVSU while working with Beaumont Health.

For more information on SVSU’s Master of Science in Health Administration and Leadership program, visit www.svsu.edu/healthleadership.

For more information about the Beaumont Health Administrative Fellowship program, go to www.beaumont.org/careers/administrative-fellowship.

May 28, 2019

SVSU writing tutors receive award from Midwest organization

Their dedication to supporting communities — and, in some cases, communities on the other side of the globe — helped two Saginaw Valley State University students win awards from a writing center-centric organization covering Midwest states.

 

The East Central Writing Centers Association presented its Tutor Leadership Award to Emma Kirsch and its Tutor Of The Year Award to Sam Geffert for their roles working as student-tutors in SVSU’s Writing Center, which provides writing-based support to the university and other select communities.

 

The East Central Writing Centers Association encompasses states including Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

 

“To win either of these awards is a significant accomplishment,” said Helen Raica-Klotz, director of the SVSU Writing Center.

 

It was one of the student’s work in another continent, though, that helped earn her the honor from The East Central Writing Centers Association. Geffert, an English education and English literature double major from Farmington Hills, won her award in part for serving as an English writing tutor at Tokushima, Japan-based Shikoku University. Her visit and service was part of an exchange program with its sister school, SVSU.

 

“It was a culture shock at first, but it was a perfect fit for what I wanted to go into,” Geffert, a prospective teacher, said of spending summer 2015 in Japan. “Overcoming language barriers is a huge challenge, and it allowed me to apply so many of the skills I was learning at SVSU.”

 

Geffert also volunteered to participate in the Writing Center’s 10-week workshop program for individuals incarcerated at the Saginaw Correctional Facility in Freeland.

 

“It’s a great classroom environment,” Geffert said of the 90-minute writing sessions often involving between six to 12 men from the facility. “Once you engage with them, they start generating content together and showing support for each other’s work. They’re grateful for us being there.”

 

Kirsch, an elementary education major from Saginaw, received her award in part for her work as the student coordinator of the Writing Center community centers established for Bay and Saginaw county residents. At both Butman-Fish Branch Library in Saginaw as well as Alice and Jack Wirt Public Library in Bay City, SVSU Writing Center student-tutors such as Kirsch offer writing-based workshops on a regular basis.

 

“Because of her dedication and commitment, we have helped over 500 community members of all ages, providing them with workshops and tutorial sessions designed to improve their writing,” Raica-Klotz said.

 

Kirch said serving the community keeps her motivated to continue working hard as a tutor.

 

“The roles I hold as a tutor and coordinator of the community writing centers give me opportunities for immense personal and professional growth, but more importantly, they give me a chance to help others,” Kirsch said. “Connecting with and helping writers and community members is what makes my positions truly important to me.”

 

For more information about the SVSU Writing Center, its student-tutors and many services, visit svsu.edu/writingcenter.

 

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