Four Saginaw Valley State University students will compete in the Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant in June, including one woman whose mother once won both the Miss Michigan and Miss America titles.
SVSU students Jaeleen Davis of Saginaw Township; Ashli Maser of Au Gres; Mallory Rivard of Bay City; and Alana Rae Wilson of Monroe are four of the 34 contestants in the pageant.
The Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant is affiliated with the Miss America Organization, one of the world’s largest providers of scholarships for women. The Miss Michigan contest will award almost $50,000 in scholarships during a 5-day contest that concludes Saturday, June 20, in Muskegon. The winner earns a $12,000 scholarship and clinches a spot in the Miss America competition in September.
“Although this is a competition, we are close friends,” Rivard said of the SVSU foursome. “We have similar ideals and morals.”
One of those shared ideals is passion for community service work. Miss Michigan contestants promote a charity or cause as part of their competition “platform.” SVSU’s contestants say they are excited to promote their respective causes.
Davis’ platform promotes Wigs 4 Kids, a nonprofit organization serving youths suffering from hair loss. Davis at the age of 8 was diagnosed with a condition that causes hair loss at a young age. A child model before losing her hair, she credits Wigs 4 Kids with helping her regain confidence.
“I was modeling everything a little kid could model,” said Davis, a criminal justice and communications major.
“Once I lost my hair, I lost my confidence and I became antisocial and an introvert. Wigs 4 Kids, my family and my faith are the three things that brought me back.”
Maser’s platform encourages others “to pursue the American dream.” She recently spoke to members of the Michigan House of Representatives about initiatives that would beef up the number of guidance counselors in K-12 schools. Maser said more counselors are needed to guide youths toward successful lives after high school.
“I’m a first-generation college student, still debt free,” said Maser, a biochemistry major who plans to attend dental school to become an orthodontist and oral surgeon.
“If I can do that, anyone can.”
Rivard’s platform encourages volunteerism. In May the early childhood education major volunteered at the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center's Saginaw VA2K and Annual Health Fair. The initiative raised funds for homeless veterans.
“I want to be a role model for others,” Rivard said. “I want to lead by example and encourage our youth to give back to our communities. In turn, this will make Michigan a better place to live.”
Wilson’s platform supports Gabby’s Ladder, a Monroe-based organization providing support for grieving families. She volunteers at the center and serves on its board of directors. Wilson said she has been passionate about the cause since childhood, when her baby brother died.
“I’ve been through the grieving process, so I can relate to that,” the elementary education major said. “It’s so important to offer those services for people grieving and dealing with loss.”
All four SVSU students are experienced in pageants. To qualify for the Miss Michigan competition, contestants must win one of 34 pageants in the state. Davis won Miss Spirit of the State; Maser, Miss Heartland; Rivard, Miss Bay County; and Wilson, Miss Monroe County.
Three of the four women competed in previous Miss Michigan challenges. Both Davis and Maser placed in the top 10 in 2014. Rivard competed in two earlier Miss Michigan pageants.
This year will mark the first Miss Michigan competition for Wilson, but she comes from winning lineage. Her mother, Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, won the state pageant and that cycle’s Miss America crown for 1988. The win came a decade before her daughter was born. Still, Wilson said she has attended 15 Miss America pageants with her mother, who is invited as an alumna of the competition.
“It’s exciting being the daughter of a Miss America,” Wilson said. “The organization feels a lot like family to me.”
Shelley Taylor, state director of the Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant for ten years, is familiar with all four SVSU students.
“They’re a great bunch of women,” she said. “They are quality, quality people. Wouldn’t it be something if one of them won?”
Ten Saginaw Valley State University students will participate in a year-long leadership development initiative following their selection for the highly competitive Roberts Fellowship.
The program annually enlists SVSU students in both academic coursework and extracurricular activities designed to enhance their potential as future political, economic and civic leaders. The program culminates in a trip to Asia to provide the Fellows with an international perspective on leadership. The class recently selected for the program will travel to Asia in May 2016.
This year's class was selected in part for demonstrating outstanding scholarship and leadership potential.
The complete lineup of Roberts Fellows includes:
• Susie Balcom, a social work major from Millington
• Alison Barger, an English major from Frankenmuth
• Daphne Barkley, a social work major from Alma
• Alyssa Cozad, a visual arts education major from Bay City
• Billie DeShone, a history major from Saginaw
• Taylor Fisher, a political science major from Saginaw
• Gavin Knake, an international business major from Bay City
• Chantala Kumar, a pre-occupational therapy major from Midland
• Alexandra Satkowiak, a psychology major from Bay City
• Audrey Speckhard, a biochemistry major from Freeland
To qualify, students must have completed between 48 and 100 credit hours with a minimum grade point average of 3.40 and pass a rigorous selection process. Students are chosen based upon their academic accomplishment, a record of university and community service, and other evidence of leadership potential.
Students selected to be Roberts Fellows will be required to complete a 3-credit Leadership Seminar in the fall and winter semesters, within one or more academic departments. During the year, the Fellows will also meet for informal seminars and discussions with various political, business and civic leaders from throughout the Great Lakes Bay region. Andrew Swihart, professor of psychology, and Brian Thomas, associate professor of sociology, serve as the group's faculty advisers.
Established in 1999, the program is named in honor of Donna Roberts of Midland, who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to SVSU through her personal generosity and prior service on the Board of Control and the Board of Fellows. A respected attorney, business leader and philanthropist, Roberts retired from The Dow Chemical Company, where she was Secretary and Assistant General Counsel. She is an honorary director of the SVSU Foundation Board.
A state organization honored a Saginaw Valley State University disability services leader as she prepares to retire after more than two decades on the job.
Cynthia Woiderski, SVSU's Disability Services director, received the Michigan Association on Higher Education and Disability's (MI-AHEAD) Margaret A. Chmielewski, Ph.D., Memorial Award during the organization's conference Friday, May 15 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.
The award was a “double honor” for Woiderski, who considered the late Chmielewski a mentor. During her early years at SVSU, Woiderski often sought advice from Chmielewski, former disability services director at Michigan State University.
“I was humbled because, from my perspective, this is a prestigious award,” said Woiderski, who retires from SVSU Friday, June 5. “It was especially nice because this award is in honor of Marge, who was one of the leaders in the disability community.”
David Stokes, the immediate past president of MI-AHEAD, said he nominated Woiderski for her outstanding lifelong leadership and commitment to the disability community in higher education.
“It was high time we recognized her,” Stokes said.
MI-AHEAD, founded in 1987 to support and strengthen the state's higher education disability services community, includes 160 members today. Woiderski has been a member of the nonprofit organization for two decades and served on the group's board from 2010-13.
Stokes said Woiderski was an active participant in the group's annual conferences and served as a leader for the industry's newcomers over the years.
“Cynthia has always had a great ability to think about all sides, to be fair, and she was always up to speed on the law and policy (in disability services),” he said.
Woiderski began her job at SVSU in 1993, when the number of disabled students was 23. That figure this year was 350. Graduation rates for students with disabilities also increased during her tenure.
Some of the changes she has overseen include more handicap-accessible doors, the inclusion of captions on campus-produced educational videos, and handicap-friendly educational tools on services. In recent years, her office also has helped connect disabled students with a donor-funded technology grant that pays for assistive technology.
A Midland resident, Woiderski said she has no immediate plans following her fast-approaching retirement date.
“I think I'm going to relax first, and spend some time with my husband,” she said. “We'll see what happens.”
Saginaw Valley State University's David Berry, professor of kinesiology, has earned two honors for his work in the athletic training field.
Berry was named the 2015 Distinguished Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Michigan Athletic Trainers Society as well as a 2015 Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer by the National Athletic Trainers Association.
“It's an honor to be nominated by previous students and to be part of a distinguished class for both organizations,” said Berry, who has worked at SVSU for five years.
Both awards recognize individuals who demonstrate commitment to leadership, volunteer service, advocacy and professional activities as an athletic trainer.
Students in SVSU’s athletic training program are well-prepared to succeed in their field. During the most recent exam cycle, all six graduates passed the Board of Certification national exam necessary to become a certified athletic trainer, giving SVSU a 100 percent pass rate. In addition, more than 30 students have presented research at conferences across the nation over the past four years.
“We're a strong program because we try to balance course work with real world practical experience and research,” Berry said. “We try to use a three-pronged approach to allow students to get a comprehensive education that they can apply to their patients to improve their patients' outcomes.”
Students in the athletic training program are required to engage with the community outside of the classroom by gaining practical experience with a health care provider. They assist in athletic training at Delta College, local high schools, and outpatient rehabilitation clinics.
“Our students are very visible in the community,” Berry said.
Both organizations will host events where Berry will accept the awards. The Michigan Athletic Trainers Society symposium is scheduled Friday, June 5, at Ypsilanti's Eagle Crest Resort. The National Athletic Trainers Association meeting is Thursday, June 25, in St. Louis, Missouri.
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Saginaw Valley State University celebrated the valuable contributions of six registered nurses in the Great Lakes Bay Region during the fifth annual Carleen K. Moore R.N. Nursing Excellence awards Tuesday, May 19.
Established by SVSU's Department of Nursing, the honor recognizes the continual dedication, quality service and front-line leadership exhibited by nurses in clinical practice, education, leadership, and community service. Awards were presented in the categories of acute care, nurse educator, long-term care/rehabilitation, and nursing in the community.
The 2015 recipients include:
• Tami Best of McLaren Bay Region, who was one of three recipients of the Acute Care Nursing award. A nomination letter described how Best's expertise has saved lives. The letter describes Best's work with one particular hospital patient who was initially treated for a stroke. Over time, Best noticed subtle changes in the patient's condition and notified a neurologist, who discovered a life threatening hemorrhage. "Her demonstration of clinical excellence and caring is why she deserves this award," her nomination letter reads. "She does it each and every day."
• Bethany Corner of MidMichigan Medical Center, who was a recipient of the Acute Care Nursing award. Colleagues describe Corner, a staff nurse in the neurosurgical/neuromedical unit, as a hard worker, mentor and team player. She developed a staff education tool that emphasizes safety and accountability of staff nurses. "A day doesn't go by that I do not hear positive comments from patients, families and coworkers about her nursing skill, bedside manner and ability to teach at the bedside," her nomination letter reads.
• Nancy Dole of Covenant HealthCare, who was a recipient of the Nursing Education award. Dole is a patient services central educator and pediatrics educator. "Her indomitable spirit has buoyed many individuals," Dole's nomination letter reads. "She teaches that, as nurses, a therapeutic connection is our responsibility and that providing authentic, compassionate care to another human being is a privilege."
• Diane Hogan of Marlette Regional Hospital, who was a recipient of the Long Term Care/Rehabilitation Nursing award. A nomination letter describes how Hogan goes beyond her job responsibilities in an effort to care for residents. Last summer, she gathered staff to help fulfill an elderly resident's wish to rest in the grass and enjoy the outdoors, as the patient did as a youth growing up on a farm. "Diane personally improves the quality of life of our residents on a daily basis," her nomination letter reads.
• Bonnie Khabir of MidMichigan Urgent Care-Clare, who was a recipient of the Community Nursing award. Since 1998, she has served as manager of the only urgent care facility serving Clare County. Her nomination letter reads: "It is no exaggeration to say that she is revered by those who work most closely with her. She is consistently steady regardless of the situations or difficulties she encounters."
• Ashlee Knoll of St. Mary's of Michigan, who was a recipient of the Acute Care Nursing award. A nurse manager, Knoll was nominated by Jill Loftus, director of St. Mary's of Michigan's Orthopedics and Neurosciences. Loftus said this about Knoll: "Ashlee is a one-of-a-kind individual who, by her polite and quiet demeanor, has the ability to coach and mentor those in need. Ashlee can find the silver in the lining and run with it."
All six recipients were honored during an awards ceremony at SVSU Tuesday, May 19. Each received a crystal Waterford rose bowl and a check for $300.
The selection committee included Ellen Talbott, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer for McLaren-Bay Region; Terry Moore, retired CEO for MidMichigan Health; Judy Ruland, SVSU dean of the College of Health and Human Services; and SVSU nursing faculty members Karen Brown-Fackler, Sally Decker, Andrea Frederick, Ava Lewis and Suzanne Savoy.
Saginaw Valley State University is offering specialized workshops to assist manufacturing companies seeking to begin exporting their products or to expand their export operations. SVSU’s Center for Business and Economic Development will serve as the regional site for ExporTech, a program offered through the National Institute of Standards & Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership network.
Participants will complete three full-day sessions during a three-month period during the summer and/or fall months. Dates will be selected once participants are confirmed. Business representatives will connect to a wide range of experts and receive a dedicated industry coach that will help them navigate the export sales process to aid in rapidly expanding global sales.
Upon completion of the program, each company will have developed an actionable, written export plan that is vetted by a panel of experts. Past experts have included:
• Brent Case, global development executive, T.O.C. Logistics
• Laura Deierlein, international trade manager for the Michigan Economic Development Coporation
• Eve Lerman, senior international trade specialist with the U.S. Department of Commerce
• Jim Miller, executive director of production control and logistics for Nexteer Automotive
• Chris Shirk, manufacturing and supply chain manager for Dow Corning
Eight businesses completed a similar program earlier this year. Each company streamlined targeted growth to an average of three specific foreign markets and is expecting to see results within the next 12 months. Combined, these companies have annual sales in excess of $55 million and have more than 200 Michigan employees.
In Michigan, the ExporTech program is a collaborative effort of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the U.S. Export Assistance Centers of the U.S. Department of Commerce. SVSU is the host for Michigan’s central region of the Regional Export Network.
Tuition for the program is $3,000. For more information, contact Harry Leaver, executive director of SVSU’s Center for Business and Economic Development, at 989-964-4047 or email@example.com.
Saginaw Valley State University researchers have found a connection between a recent drop in Saginaw's violent crime rate and a Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) initiative aimed at eliminating blighted structures from the city.
Andrew Miller, SVSU assistant professor of geography, led the study. He presented the findings during a Tuesday, May 26 symposium that also will feature U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee and Saginaw Mayor Dennis Browning. The event will focus on Saginaw's community development since receiving $11.2 million in MSHDA funds to demolish abandoned homes beginning in late 2013.
Miller's analysis was commissioned by Saginaw City Hall officials looking to track the impact of the MSHDA funds the city received. He said the study represents SVSU's dedication both to community interaction and hands-on learning.
“This is a local university using local information to solve local problems,” Miller said. “On top of that, we're using local students with skills they attained at a local university to service their communities.”
Beginning in April, Miller performed statistical analysis while two of his students were responsible for much of the study's data management and GIS work. Those students were Mitchell Kloc, a professional and technical writing major from Freeland, and Daniel Johnson, a criminal justice major from Sparta who graduated in May. Johnson continued working on the project after he completed his studies.
Miller on Tuesday will discuss how his latest research revealed that the MSHDA-funded demolitions correlated with a decrease in “priority one crimes” in Saginaw. Those crimes include homicides, burglaries, robberies, arsons and aggravated assaults.
John Stemple, Saginaw's chief inspector, said he and other City Hall officials turned to SVSU to conduct the study because of the university's strong record of community engagement.
“The City of Saginaw has partnered with SVSU on several occasions with positive results, including participation in the multi-jurisdictional Saginaw County Crime Prevention Council, resulting in a crime statistics basis for creating crime measurement tools,” Stemple said.
In 2013-14, Miller and SVSU undergraduate students conducted research that helped Saginaw law enforcement leaders better understand the city's crime “hot spots.” That research received national media attention, and led to a related study that extended to the county level in 2014-15.
City officials are pleased with SVSU’s community commitment and encouraged by the research findings.
“It is because of these long-standing relationships, the faculty and students' commitment to seeing Saginaw prosper - and ultimately a report prepared by SVSU - which tells us we are on the road to prosperity,” Stemple said.
Reported incidents of part one crimes dropped from 2,631 in 2012 to 2,115 in 2013, when the MSHDA funds were made available for the latter part of the year. The crime figure dropped to 1,868 in 2014, marking a 29 percent reduction over that two-year span.
To date, MSHDA has funded the demolition of 599 abandoned structures; law enforcement experts say such blight contributes to crime. The MSHDA money will fund 301 more demolitions. That would eliminate half of the estimated 1,800 abandoned homes the city counted in 2013.
Miller's study also tracked trends in specific neighborhoods. The research showed crime “hot spots” had cooled in the areas where the concentration of demolition was heaviest. Those neighborhoods largely were located specifically in Saginaw's Houghton-Jones and Cathedral districts.
Other contributing factors to the drop in crime include the assignment of Michigan State Police patrols to the city as well as a decline in Saginaw's population, Miller said.
The May 26 symposium will be hosted by Bancroft Luxury Apartments, 107 S. Washington in Saginaw. A 9:30 a.m. press conference kicked off the event.
In 2015, SVSU received the Community Engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a distinction achieved by only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities. For more on SVSU's community engagement, visit svsu.edu/communityengagement/.
The Saginaw Valley State University Cardinal Formula Racing team earned the fifth-best finish in the accomplished program's history at its most recent international competition.
The team finished in 26th place out of 110 colleges and universities from around the world at the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers Collegiate Design Series. The event was hosted at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan from May 14-16.
“I feel pretty good about our performance,” said Brooks Byam, Cardinal Formula Racing's adviser since 1998 and an SVSU professor of mechanical engineering. “I'm just thrilled to be able to work with these students.”
Byam said this year's vehicle might have finished in the event's top 10 if not for a mechanical failure during the endurance portion of the competition. He said the vehicle was on pace to score more than 200 points in the endurance challenge until an oil line broke loose, spraying oil all over. The team instead earned 18 points in the category.
“It was about a 10-cent part,” Byam said of the oil line that never proved an issue during the team's year worth of preparation. “That's racing. That one little thing can make all the difference.”
SVSU recorded the highest overall finish among institutions without a graduate program in engineering, thanks to strong showings in all other categories, placing in the top 15 in acceleration, autocross, cost, presentation, and skid pad. The 2015 overall champion was Graz University of Technology from Austria.
The only Cardinal Formula Racing teams to place higher in the annual competition managed a sixth place finish in 2002, eighth in 2005, 14th in 2008 and 18th in 2010. Last year, the group finished in 36th place.
Byam said the experience of preparing an Indy-style race car for competition is invaluable to students.
“They're much more self-reliant,” he said. “They're becoming much better engineers.”
Byam - 2013 winner of the Carroll Smith Mentor's Cup from the Society of Automotive Engineers, the top honor given to faculty who advise college formula racing programs - said Cardinal Formula Racing's 20-student roster showed dedication and a solid work ethic this year.
That could be a good sign for the 2016 team because all but three students from this year's crew are expected to return.
Zack Haveraneck of Saginaw; Samuel Dantuma of Pinconning and Henry Shin of Saginaw are graduating.
“The rest are already digging into it,” Byam said. “I was going to tell them to take a few weeks off, but they want to meet on Wednesday to discuss goals for next year.”
Recent Saginaw Valley State University graduate Blake Mazur has a busy summer schedule, including plans to begin work as an audio technician at Hollywood Studios in Orlando's Walt Disney World.
A theatre major who acted and provided sound design in 10 SVSU theatre productions, Mazur was offered the full-time job when he interviewed for the position with Walt Disney World employers during a recent conference at the United States Institute for Theatre Technology.
“I'm very excited that I have a huge opportunity like this right out of college,” the Saginaw resident said. “I feel very fortunate that my education at SVSU helped me to reach this step. Without SVSU, I definitely would not be where I am right now.”
Mazur said he enrolled at SVSU because its theatre program - unlike many other institutions - allows freshmen the opportunity to play significant roles in theatre productions. As a result, Mazur gained experience that helped him develop his skills immediately.
At first, Mazur was interested exclusively in acting at SVSU. But, during his sophomore year, he served as the sound designer for the university's “Death Of A Salesman” play.
“It was tough, but I learned, and it ended up being something I wanted to do,” he said. “And here I am.”
As an audio technician at Hollywood Studios, Mazur's responsibilities will include helping to maintain the audio used at the resort's attractions. Those include rides and live performances based on popular characters including Cinderella and Indiana Jones as well as franchises such as “Star Wars” and “Frozen.”
Mazur said he is excited for the opportunity. He hopes eventually to rise in the ranks to pursue a career as a sound designer, which oversees a production's audio and manages its audio technicians.