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February 20, 2019

SVSU receives $99K grant to train elementary school teachers in engaging STEM education strategies

The Regional Mathematics and Science Center at Saginaw Valley State University has been awarded a grant from the Michigan Department of Education’s MiSTEM Advisory Council to help elementary teachers foster a love of science and math in students, starting at an early age.

The $99,672 grant will enable SVSU to provide professional development training to teachers in grades 1 to 5 throughout the East Central MiSTEM region, which includes Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Midland and Saginaw counties. The program is called “Engineering is Elementary.”

Tamara Barrientos — director of the SVSU Regional Mathematics and Science Center — said the professional development program is valuable because it gives elementary school teachers an integrated approach to implementing science and math standards.

“And it gives students an engaging, team-based approach to learning by solving real-world problems,” Barrientos said. “This professional development has the potential to positively impact thousands of students throughout our region.”

MiSTEM is an effort by the state of Michigan to create a system that will produce more science, technology, engineering and math-equipped students and educators by empowering them through professional training and development. In pursuing those goals, MiSTEM also integrates businesses and educational institutions.

The MiSTEM advisory council earlier this month awarded over $3 million to 21 STEM-related projects at both higher education institutions as well as K-12 schools.

“Engineering is Elementary” is an award-winning program created by the Museum of Science, Boston, designed to inspire problem solving and critical thinking for all students.

The first phase of the training is scheduled Friday to Sunday, March 5-7, at SVSU. The workshop will be facilitated by professional development trainers from the Museum of Science, Boston.

Attendees will be certified to conduct “Engineering is Elementary” professional development training during the second phase of the project.

Educators interested in applying for the workshops can contact Barrientos at (989) 964-4115 or tarizola@svsu.edu. The deadline to apply for the training is Friday, Feb. 22.

February 19, 2019

SVSU student’s entrepreneurial spirit shines in statewide competition

The childhood lemonade stands were just a warmup for Maggie Walker, a Saginaw Valley State University student whose entrepreneurial ambitions led her to start a retailing business as a college junior and win a first-place statewide award for it recently.

The SVSU accounting major from Laingsburg received the first-place nod in the entrepreneurship category of the Michigan Collegiate DECA competition hosted in Dearborn Feb. 1-3. She and five of her SVSU classmates at the contest qualified for Collegiate DECA’s national competition scheduled for April in Orlando.

“It was pretty surprising to win,” Walker said. “It was great hearing someone tell you that your idea could be successful.”

Collegiate DECA is an international association of high school and college students interested in marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality, and marketing sales and service. The organization hosts competitions judged by panelists, including mock investors.

The business plan Walker pitched to a mock investor in the entrepreneurship category, though, was no mock setup. She presented her own real-life start-up, Everyday Adult, which she founded in August 2018 to help young business professionals purchase professional clothing at affordable prices. Already, she has sold clothing to 60 customers and built an online following of 10,000 people.

Walker said Everyday Adult sprouted from her own shopping habits.

“I buy a lot of clothing for myself, and some of the prices are so high for a college student like me, so I like to find the best prices,” she said.

She decided to apply those bargain-hunting skills to a business plan by finding new or barely-used clothing and offering those items to customers largely through Poshmark, a retailing website. Her customers are primarily 25 or younger. Her Poshmark account can be found at https://poshmark.com/closet/poshwmw.

While the business transactions occur online, Walker said she hopes to expand Everyday Adult’s presence.

“My end goal is to purchase a trailer and sell at pop-up boutiques,” she said.

Walker said she applied many of the business practices learned while studying at SVSU. The result is a company with a promising start, she said.

“This is pretty much my first real business if you don’t count the lemonade stands I had when I was a kid,” she said. “It’s been great.”

Along with Walker, the following SVSU students competed at the Michigan Collegiate DECA contest earlier this month:

  • Keegan Booms, an international business major from Almont, finished in third place in the business ethics category with his partner, Jacob Saint Amour, a supply chain management major from Laingsburg. Amour also was a finalist in the retail management category.
  • Carly D'Alessandro, a management and marketing double major from Midland, finished in second place in the event planning category with partner Brady Wieland, a mechanical engineering major from Essexville. D'Alessandro also was a finalist in the professional sales category.
  • Madisyn Nicol, a management and marketing double major from Chesaning, was a finalist in both the advertising campaign and sales management meeting categories

There are about 15,000 Collegiate DECA members representing about 250 colleges and universities nationwide. SVSU's DECA chapter is led by Amy Hendrickson, associate professor of law, and Betsy Pierce, associate professor of accounting.

February 19, 2019

SVSU Board approves improvements to Pine Grove apartments

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved spending up to $1.8 million to make improvements and renovations to Pine Grove apartments during the Board’s regular meeting Tuesday, Feb. 18. The on-campus apartments were originally constructed in 1986 and will be modernized as a result of the project.

In addition, the Board approved spending up to $1.1 million for maintenance of campus infrastructure, including parking lots, roads and sidewalks.

The funds for the two projects will come from reserves allocated for capital projects and the university’s auxiliary system, which includes self-supporting operations such as University Housing.                                                               

The Board also granted tenure to 10 faculty members, effective July 1. They are:

  • Teresa Beadlescomb, assistant professor of social work
  • George Corser, assistant professor of computer science and information systems
  • Sylvia Fromherz Sharp, assistant professor of biology
  • Tammy Hill, assistant professor of nursing
  • Maureen Muchimba, assistant professor of health sciences
  • Travis Pashak, assistant professor of psychology
  • David Peruski, associate professor of nursing
  • Tami Pobocik, associate professor of nursing
  • Izabela Szymanska, assistant professor of management and marketing
  • Norman Wika, assistant professor of music

In other action, the Board:

  • Established the Board’s meeting schedule for 2019-20
  • Appointed a nominating committee for the Board’s officer elections.

February 15, 2019

A ‘Curious’ mystery — and an inclusive performance — part of SVSU's latest theatre production

Saginaw Valley State University's theatre department will stage its production of Simon Stephens' play, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” from Wednesday to Sunday, Feb. 20-24, in SVSU's Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.

Based on Mark Haddon’s best-selling 2003 novel of the same name, the play follows 15-year-old Christopher Boone (played by freshman Jared Kaufman, a communication and theatre education double major from Bay City), who has been accused of killing the neighbor’s dog. Throughout the production, Christopher overcomes his fears and embarks on an unforgettable journey to solve the mystery of the real killer. The adventure changes his life forever.

Tommy Wedge, the play's director and an SVSU assistant professor of theatre, says "Curious Incident" will be unlike any other production audiences have witnessed at SVSU

“Not only is this a very technically-challenging play — with 400-plus light cues, rear projection, a raked stage, and student-created soundtrack — but, for the first time in our department, we are offering a sensory-friendly performance,” Wedge says.

That sensory-friendly version of the play — slated for the Sunday, Feb. 24 performance at 3 p.m. — will dampen the intensity of the sound and lighting elements for the sake of audience members sensitive to such elements, including individuals with autism. This more inclusive version will feature warnings for jarring lighting and sound effects, make the main floor open to audience members who want to move around (the balcony level will be reserved for attendees seeking a more traditional theatre experience), and open an "activity room" near the theatre. The activity room — open before, during and after the production — will feature staff and activities for attendees who want to take a break from watching the production while it's underway.

Wedge, the father of two children on the autism spectrum, says handling the subject of autism has been a rewarding challenge for the student-actors.

“The spectrum is so wide, and its manifestations so varied, that it has made this process a very educational one, especially for our actors," he says. "I think what they’ve developed is thoughtful and truthful, and I’m proud of what they’ve built.”

Hannah Ducolon, an elementary education major who plays the role of Judy – Christopher’s mother — says the unique presentation of the play makes "Curious Incident" an important production.

“This play shows that those who may be 'atypical' are just as capable as any other human being,” the Bay City native says. “They just process things differently, which is displayed in every aspect of this production.”

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. performances Wednesday through Saturday, Feb. 20-23, and a 3 p.m. performance Sunday, Feb. 24. The production is recommended for audiences 13 and older due to mild adult themes and language.

Tickets are $13 for general admission, and $10 for senior citizens and students. Tickets can be purchased online now.

For more information, please contact the SVSU Box Office at (989) 964-4261.

February 15, 2019

SVSU student lands scholarship to top dental school through hard work, alumni support

Saginaw Valley State University student Brianna Kosecki's future is looking as bright as a freshly polished smile after being accepted into the nation's top dentistry school.

Kosecki, a pre-dental biology major and first-generation college student from Standish who will graduate in May 2019, received acceptance letters from three dental schools before choosing to study at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

“It felt really good, because that was my number one choice,” Kosecki said. “They have an interesting program for their fourth year where they send students out into actual clinics to work at, which is really unique.”

Part of what makes Kosecki's story so impressive is that U-M offered her a scholarship of $20,000 per year while she studies there, which will cover a significant portion of the yearly attendance costs that range between $40,000 and $49,000 per year, not including living expenses.

Such scholarships are rare, said Heidi Lang, SVSU's pre-health professions advisor, adding it is a testament to Kosecki's talent and work ethic.

“This is an incredibly rare opportunity reserved for the best and brightest across the nation,” Lang said.

Kosecki is a driven student who has served as an employee in the university's STEM Mobile Research Lab, as a Mission of Mercy volunteer with the Michigan Dental Association, and as the current president of SVSU's Health Professions Association, among other extracurricular activities.

Kosecki is also the first recipient of SVSU's Jessica Bentoski Pre-Dental scholarship, which paid for $1,000 worth of dental school applications and testing fees. Bentoski is an SVSU alumna who graduated with her D.D.S. from the U-M dental school and now has a pediatric dentistry practice in Saginaw Township; she established the scholarship in 2016.

SVSU offered much additional support, as well, and Kosecki credits the caring faculty and staff for much of her undergraduate success.

“Heidi Lang was super helpful,” Kosecki said. “I went in and talked to her, and she gave me tons of contacts for people who I could go in and shadow, information on courses to take and what was expected for how many shadowing hours are needed to be competitive.”

Kosecki said she was inspired to pursue dentistry by her mother's work in the field as a dental hygienist. Kosecki was able to shadow dental professionals while they worked, a requirement for dental school applications.

“I got a lot of mentorship,” Kosecki said. “People really love to help and give access to resources.”

As for advice to other students, Kosecki suggests they get involved with organizations like the Health Professionals Association, both for the networking opportunities and the ability to learn from others in their field.

“Start early, and definitely shadow and make sure it's something you enjoy," Kosecki said. "Find good opportunities, because there are so many around here.”

Even as an undergraduate, Kosecki already finds her involvement in dentistry to be a worthwhile experience.

“Even just going in and volunteering ... just being able to help set up clinics and do that kind of work is really fulfilling,” Kosecki said.

 

February 15, 2019

Grant boosts SVSU efforts to turn military education into college credits for vets

Saginaw Valley State University was one of seven institutions state-wide to receive Military Credit Equivalency grants that will bolster credit transfer programs that empower veterans to complete their education.

During their military service, service members receive extensive education and training that can translate directly into academic and professional skills, but these skills have not always transferred easily into college credits. SVSU hopes to support its veteran students and make sure they receive credit for previous education through this grant program, organizers say.

SVSU’s award, granted by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, totals $12,897.

“The funds will primarily be used to bring American Council of Education representatives and two faculty reviewers from other institutions to discuss credit recommendation processes with our faculty and staff,” said Bethany Alford, director of SVSU’s Military Student Affairs office.

SVSU is dedicated to serving its veteran students, and its staff will use the remaining funds to travel to other Michigan colleges and universities to review their processes and best practices, Alford said.

The one-time funding boost was received through a competitive grant process open to Michigan higher education institutions. Grant proposals from six other institutions in Michigan were also accepted, with the funded programs ranging from similar equivalency programs to bridge programs aimed at applying military training to academic degree programs.

According to Alford, military transcripts appear distinctly different from those in higher education and require more training to properly analyze and apply to a student’s academic degree program.

“Providing direct equivalencies for military students shows them that SVSU has taken the time to understand and value the training and education they have received in the military,” Alford said. “The team and I are looking forward to working with faculty in creating equivalencies from military education so SVSU can continue to be a top choice for veterans in Michigan.”

SVSU has been repeatedly recognized for its support of military-affiliated students and their concerns, recently earning a place in the Best for Vets: Colleges 2019 rankings by Military Times as well as a designation as a Military Friendly university by VIQTORY.

 

February 13, 2019

SVSU alumna with passion for world languages interning in D.C.

Saginaw Valley State University alumna Alissa Rutkowski recently began an internship as a communications and policy intern with the Joint National Committee for Languages and International Studies in Washington, D.C. The committee represents language education advocacy organizations across the nation.

 

The Birch Run native assists in planning congressional meetings and performs policy research. Her most recent responsibilities include helping to coordinate the committee's Language Advocacy Day events scheduled Thursday to Friday, Feb. 14-15, in Washington, D.C.

 

“Right now, my focus is organizing Language Advocacy Day so that members of the language community from all over the country have the opportunity to meet with federal policymakers and discuss the state of language learning in the U.S.," she said.

 

Rutkowski received a bachelor's degree in psychology from SVSU in May 2018. While at SVSU, she served as an orientation leader for international students; was selected as a member of the Roberts Fellowship Program, a student leadership development initiative that concludes with a trip to several nations in Asia; and participated in SVSU’s Study Abroad program. 

 

“Because of SVSU, I was able to discover and develop my passion for world languages, international relations and advocacy,” she said. “I was also able to build great relationships with my professors along the way, which opened the door to multiple research and conference opportunities.”

 

These experiences grew her ambition as an advocate for foreign language education and inclusion, Rutkowski said.

 

“When I was working on a faculty-led linguistic research project, I was constantly confronted by people outside of the field asking questions like, ‘Why is this relevant to me?,’ or, ‘Why is language study so important?,'" she said. "I realized that I wanted to be able to share the benefits of language education with others and offer support to those who work in the field."

February 6, 2019

SVSU’s Relay For Life fundraiser will feature survivor of rare bone cancer from Bay City

Haley Charbonneau doesn’t like to plan too many days in advance. A four-year battle against a rare form of bone cancer taught the Saginaw Valley State University senior that each day is best lived one at a time.

 

Still, the Bay City woman a few weeks ago was quick to accept an invitation to speak to the cancer survivors, caretakers and supporters that will gather at SVSU’s annual Relay For Life event Friday, Feb. 8.

 

“I couldn’t miss it,” Charbonneau said of the fundraiser that supports cancer research via the American Cancer Society. “There’s a real sense of community and support that happens at Relay For Life, and I want to be there for that.”

 

SVSU’s Relay For Life is scheduled from 2 p.m. to midnight Friday in SVSU’s Ryder Center, where teams of students will gather to raise money. The public is invited to attend the event, which will honor cancer survivors while also featuring entertainment and raffle giveaways. Supporters also can contribute to the fundraiser online at SVSU’s Relay For Life webpage.

 

Last year, the SVSU event raised $25,750. This year, student organizers hope to raise as much as $30,000.

 

Sabrina Bellante, the lead student coordinator this year and last, said her motivation for supporting Relay For Life became especially personal after her uncle, Edward “Bob” Pressel, died of brain cancer in October 2018.

 

“Brain cancer is such a tough cancer to come back from,” she said. “For me, I want to raise money to find some kind of research to help people diagnosed with brain cancer.”

 

The exercise science major from Clinton Township said her uncle’s fight to stay alive continues to motivate her to help others suffering from cancer. He survived more than a year beyond an initial six- to eight-month life expectancy diagnosis from doctors.

 

“He made a huge impact on my life,” said Bellante, president of the SVSU chapter of Colleges Against Cancer that organizes SVSU's Relay For Life event.

 

Bellante said she also is inspired by cancer survivors such as Charbonneau, who will serve as the “survivor speaker” at this year's fundraiser.

 

Charbonneau said she plans to tell Friday's attendees how, two days after her 18th birthday in 2012, doctors discovered a tumor growing on her left tibia. A later diagnosis revealed it was caused by a rare form of bone cancer known as adamantinoma, which makes up less than 1 percent of all bone cancer diagnoses.

 

“My doctor had only seen one other case of it in her 25 years of practice,” Charbonneau said. “Chemo and radiation don’t work on it.”

 

Doctors performed six surgeries on Charbonneau from 2012-16, until eventually her entire left tibia was replaced with cadaver bones reinforced by metal plates and rods.

 

Her long fight against cancer began shortly after she first arrived at SVSU as a communication major. There were times when she could not walk without the aid of wheelchairs, canes or walking boots, yet she remained enrolled at the university in pursuit of her education. Now she is on course to walk alongside fellow graduating classmates during SVSU's commencement ceremonies in December 2019.

 

“Cancer took away a lot of my independence when it first happened,” she said. “I had friends who were enjoying a carefree first year of college while I was loading up the car to travel to Royal Oak for medical appointments. Fortunately, I had a great support system of friends and family who helped me along the way.”

 

This year represents her third since doctors last detected any trace of the cancer.

 

“I continue to be thankful just to be here,” she said. “That’s what I want to say on Friday: There was a point in time when I wasn’t sure if I would have another day. You never know how short life is, so I now appreciate every day that I’m given.”

February 5, 2019

Musical duo to delight audiences at SVSU with euphonium, piano performances

A performance inspired in part by a steampunk superhero comic book series will be on the program for a classical music concert scheduled this week at Saginaw Valley State University.


Musicians William Sutton and Ling Lo will perform Friday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall. The concert is free and open to the public.


The duo arrives at SVSU with résumés featuring both local and international accolades.


Sutton, who will be playing the euphonium alongside Lo’s piano performance Friday, won the Midwest Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference’s euphonium solo competition in 2015. Sutton also advanced to the semifinal round four times at the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival. Sutton, an adjunct faculty member in SVSU’s Department of Music, has performed with groups such as the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, Lansing Symphony Orchestra as well as the Orchestra of Northern New York.


As a soloist, Lo has performed in global competitions including the International Bohemia Metro Cup and Taiwan Cultural Cup Music Competition. She carries degrees in piano performance from both Boston University and Soochow University in Jiangsu, China. Lo is currently completing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance and a Master of Music degree in collaborative piano from Michigan State University.


Friday’s performance will include selections such as “In League with Extraordinary Gentlemen,” a Peter Graham-composed musical piece inspired in part by a comic book series and 2003 film about a group of steampunk-themed superheroes known as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Other musical selections planned for Friday include work from 19th century Austrian composer Franz Schubert and 20th century American composer William Grant Still.


For more information about Friday’s concert, contact the SVSU Department of Music at music@svsu.edu or (989) 964-4159.

February 5, 2019

SVSU to host more than 100 employers for Summer Job and Internship Fair

Saginaw Valley State University will host its Summer Job and Internship Fair on Wednesday, Feb. 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second floor of SVSU's Curtiss Hall in the banquet and seminar rooms. 

More than 100 employers will be looking to interview and potentially hire prospective workers. This event is free and open to the public.

The employment fair will offer opportunities to visit with representatives from companies and agencies based locally and across the nation. Dow Bay Area Family YMCA, Detroit Police Department, Auto-Owners Insurance, Bavarian Inn Lodge & Restaurant, Chippewa Nature Center, and Apple Mountain are among the wide range of employers expected to attend Tuesday.

Bill Stec, interim director of Career Services, advises that all who are seeking valuable work experience attend.

Stec also offered his best tips for those who want to make a good impression at the fair. Attendees should consider preparing for the event by doing the following:

  • Researching the list of companies who will be in attendance by going to svsu.edu/careers and clicking on the events tab.
  • Highlighting the top 15 companies you would like to network with at the fair
  • Printing 15-20 copies of your resume
  • Preparing questions to ask employers to show interest in their specific organization.

The Summer Job and Internship Fair was originally scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 29, but was postponed due to inclement weather.

For more information about the Summer Job and Internship Fair, visit www.svsu.edu/careerservices.

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